Outlook: December begins to show export market challenges ahead



According to the latest HMRC data, a total of 229,315 tonnes of OCC was exported from the UK in December 2017. This compares to 211,651 tonnes in November that was exported globally. It means exports have grown for two months in a row following October’s 196,235 tonnes, which was unusually low. However, December 2017’s total exports were significantly lower than in December 2016 when 244,872 tonnes was shipped from the UK. China remained the key destination with 169,797 tonnes exported there in December. This was an improvement on November’s 141,195 tonnes and October’s record low (since February 2012 when we started collecting the data) of 92,401 tonnes.


But this was also much lower than the 217,429 tonnes exported in December 2016 and is vastly lower than the 272,133 tonnes of December 2015. The next best destination continued to be Vietnam, which has now become a crucial purchaser of material. In December, it took 34,109 tonnes of OCC, up from 24,491 tonnes in November. This was still lower than the record 50,490 tonnes purchased in October.
India was the next best destination in December buying 8,423 tonnes down from 13,601 tonnes in November. This was the lowest India had taken since July 2017. Europe as a whole was next with 6,969 tonnes, up from 6,358 tonnes. But this was significantly lower than the 13,695 tonnes purchased in October. Netherlands (4,538 tonnes) and France (1,177 tonnes) were the key buyers. Exports of the waste polymers of ethylene commodity code declined in December 2017 as alternative destinations to China took less material than in the previous month.

Malaysia took 8,154 tonnes in December, down from the record 11,929 tonnes in November. However, this meant that Malaysia has now taken more than 8,000 tonnes per month for five months, effectively since the China ban was announced. Exports to Vietnam also fell in December to 5,185 tonnes from 8,441 tonnes in November. Europe appears to have filled up in December with exports to there from the UK falling to 2,356 tonnes compared to 5,064 tonnes in November. Poland took just 531 tonnes compared to 2,277 tonnes a month earlier.

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