Quality dominated discussions at the Secondary Commodity Markets Conference

ACN Europe Tania Don speaking at the SCM 2018

China and quality were the main themes for speakers at this year’s Secondary Commodity Markets Conference held on the 19th June in Stockport.  

Experts in the paper and plastics sectors gathered to debate vital issues, but it seems that the message is still the same, quality must come first when it comes to sorting and exporting recyclable materials.  


The prices for key materials have fluctuated since China’s ban and more recently CCIC’s 100% self-inspection requirement with other destinations taking more material.  

ACN Europe senior marketing manager Tania Don argued that due to China’s regulations on mixed paper, this has led to non-Asia countries receiving more of this material, with a 21% increase to India. She questioned whether India’s small paper recycling sector could handle the huge amount of paper imports it had received in recent months.  

She added that other countries are increasing their inspection requirements, although she does not believe they will be as initially tough as those implemented by China.  

Chinese mill groups are looking for opportunities outside of China and she highlighted how Nine Dragons, that is supplied by ACN, has recently bought two mills in the United States.  

Saica Natur UK country manager Johan Sundblad said supply and demand continued to drive the market.  

He agreed that there is a developing market for “super quality” material, particularly to China but potentially other markets too and questioned whether UK collection and sorting infrastructure (particularly material recycling facilities) was good enough to provide this. 

However, he also noted that conditions were good for paper recyclers due to the demand created by internet deliveries for brown paper, and falling levels of news & pam in collections means newsprint mills were constantly seeking material. 

The topic of alternative destinations to China for plastics was discussed by Paul Barnes from Oatley Resources who agreed with the rest of the speakers that “quality will dictate the price” and it will change depending where the material is being exported to.  

He suggested that Turkey is “screaming and shouting for materials”, while UK, Europe, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and others were all still looking for plastics.  

Indigo Environmental director Paul Rendle-Barnes said that he was heartened that exporters of plastics were increasingly talking about quality of material, but this was also a requirement for the continued success of the UK recycling sector.   

Discussing prices, he said that strong demand for recycled polymers meant that prices for most grades remained strong.  

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