Chinese PET imports lowest for two years in October as recyclate restrictions bite


Restrictions on the import of plastics into China seem to have had an impact on the amount of PET bought by buyers in the country in October.

From 1 October, China has been enforcing regulations that mean only washed, post-consumer plastics are allowed to be imported and it appears this had an impact on the volume of material passing through Chinese ports in this period.


According to the monthly analysis of Chinese customs statistics undertaken by SCM Intelligence, PET imports were lowest for a normal month in two years.

October saw just 11,804 tonnes imported in October, down from 14,854 in September and significantly lower than the rolling average since January 2011 of 15,781 tonnes.

Only one month was lower in the past two years which was 9,604 tonnes in February 2011 which coincided with Chinese New Year which typically sees lower imports. However, even this year when orders fell during Chinese New Year, imports were still at 14,701 tonnes.

However, one proviso is that November 2011 saw imports of only 11,954 tonnes so this month could be due to a restriction in orders ahead of the Christmas/Chinese New Year period.

SCM Intelligence will continue to monitor both Chinese imports and UK exports (the October data will not be available until next month) over the coming months to see if this is a prolonged trend due to the import restrictions or a one-off blip.

Exports of paper were also at their lowest for two years, although the proportionate fall wasn’t as significant as those for plastics. Copper imports increased on this time last year, but were down compared to last month, while aluminium was lower both on last month and compared to October 2011.

SCM Intelligence also contains the SCM Global Index which shows paper continues to be the most volatile material in world markets at present.

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