Outlook: Plastic exports to China slump, but recovery for OCC



The latest HMRC export data shows that the ban on imports of plastics into China has hit UK exports hard. But exports of OCC from the UK to China are also struggling, even if they were better in November than in October. Looking at plastics first of all, just 1,340 tonnes of the waste polymers of ethylene commodity code were exported to China in November, down from the previous lowest total of 3,937 tonnes in October. To put this into context, 20,944 tonnes was exported to China from the UK in November 2016.


The strongest destination for exports in November was Malaysia with 11,929 tonnes up from 8,448 tonnes in October. Since August, Malaysia has consistently taken more than 8,000 tonnes per month, but concerns remain for those sending material there whether this level of demand will remain consistent. Vietnam was the next most popular destination taking 8,441 tonnes down from 9,224 tonnes in October although still the second strongest month since we started collecting the data in 2012. Europe was the best destination after Vietnam with 5,064 tonnes, down from 6,378 tonnes in October. Poland took 2,277 tonnes of this, and 1,215 tonnes went to Netherlands.

After just 92,401 tonnes were sent to China in October, exports of OCC recovered to 141,195 tonnes in November. But this continues to show a slump in exports of this material there. With 179,114 tonnes sent there in November 2016, and 205,807 tonnes in the same month in 2015, it remains a significantly below trend performance for November. Vietnam continued to be the second strongest destination with 24,491 tonnes going there in November, down from the very strong 50,490 tonnes in October. That is now the third month in a row that it took more than 20,000 tonnes, after a previous high of just 17,300 tonnes in April last year. This suggests it is taking some of the slack that has emerged with the Chinese restrictions. Next best was India with 13,601 tonnes, up from 11,873 tonnes in October and the third month in a row it was above 11,000 tonnes with October’s the lowest figure of the three months. Indonesia’s 8,683 tonnes was down from October’s 12,380, while Europe also fell to 6,358 tonnes in November from 13,695 tonnes. Interestingly, Turkey has taken more than 2,800 tonnes for four months now and could be one to watch.

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