Special report - Plastic

Performance of plastic - July-August report

Filed under
Plastic Recycling
August 15 2018
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The plastic scrap business is running through an extremely arduous time. The European plastic scrap market is now having a massively varied availability without adequate demand; consequently European collectors are struggling to find the needed appropriate long-term partners who can recycle the material in the best efficient and ecological way. Following the revelation of a partial import stop of plastic scrap into Vietnam, most of the exporters subsequently diverted their cargo to Thailand and Malaysia. The circumstances deteriorated when in an examination done during the month of June at the port of Thailand, environmental experts found a high frequency of unlawful imports of plastic scrap since the start of 2018.

Taking a gander at the huge imports into Thailand in the year 2018 environmental authorities made a move to track it down. This activity was executed by customs and environmental authorities together by tracking down the import containers. Imports in Thailand got trapped in multiple folds after the China ban. In 2017, Thailand had imported around 151000 tons against around 70000 tons in the year 2016. According to information available, in January 2018, the imports were greater than 40000 tons. We do not have clear information of whatever remains of the year 2018, yet the volume has to be similar to that of January. The organisations that were occupied with such unlawful exchange were chased down and Thailand customs and port authorities began to examine every container that was imported into the country. This created tension among exporters and they decreased action toward Thailand just to ensure they didn’t enter in any unlawful affair, even unwittingly.


Reaching the end of July, the Malaysian government announced a complete stoppage for issuance of new AP (Advance permit) with immediate effect. This was the result of some investigation, where the environment authority found some factories were running without proper license and were importing the material in the name of other recyclers, which is legally not allowed in Malaysia. The environment authority had raided 8 companies and found that 3 companies were engaged in unlawful recycling activities. Environment authority had seized the import permits that were used to import the goods and also closed down the recycling facilities. To investigate further and retain the interest of actual recyclers they announced this ban would not affect the loaded cargo which was on the way to Malaysia where the advance permit was already obtained. So any importer who has not applied for AP or is using another company’s AP will be hunted down in this process.

This ban is applicable at least for next three months to control the import of plastic waste into Malaysia. After 3 months the government and environment authorities will decide how to proceed further. As of now all exporters are worried about the fate of the raw material being generated in Europe. After the China ban a lot of South Asian countries’ import volumes had jumped up and gradually they got into trouble in the absence of strict checking at the port. Environment authorities in these countries are planning to enforce the rules and regulations in a manner that the recycler’s interest is not lost and at the same time no illegal activity takes place. On the other hand, due to low realisation lot of volume, which was segregated before by waste management companies in Europe, is being dumped for incineration. Waste management companies are not able to obtain the price for the work they should do to segregate the plastic scrap and make them recyclable.

Thus the availability of good sorted material is not so high. At the same time a lot of new recycling capacities were developed in the last six months, and they are recycling the good sorted LDPE within Europe. The material which still needs some sorting is in high availability and looking for a home where it can be segregated economically. East Europe seems to be one of the destinations where it can be done, but recycling facilities are already full with such material. This will be a big challenge for the European market to find a solution for the unsorted plastic in the absence of Asian recyclers. Shipping lines are likewise affected amid this troublesome period in the plastic scrap business. They have to deal with containers stuck up at various Asian ports bringing about detention and demurrage and waiting for customs clearance. All shipping lines are busy managing the containers which are stuck and plastics scrap is becoming an unwanted cargo for them.