Extent of impact of green fence on Chinese plastics industry revealed

European and US exports of plastics to China fell dramatically as a result of the Green Fence, the China Scrap Plastics Association has revealed.

Writing in the China Recycling Plastics Update, China Scrap Plastics Association president Steve Wong noted that the Chinese Green Fence policy that enforced regulation on importing material had a major impact on the plastics market.

As a result of the Green Fence European and US scrap plastic exports to China had fallen, while at the same time countries in South East Asia had increased exports.

He noted that in November 2013, the total volume of scrap plastic imports had reduced by 13 per cent.

France was worst hit with a 78 per cent fall in plastic exports to China in November 2013 compared to the same month in 2012, with the UK down by 53 per cent in the same period.

Spain saw a 33 per cent drop, Italy 31 per cent, Germany 29 per cent and USA 18 per cent.

One European outlier was the Netherlands which saw a 28 per cent increase. But Thailand saw its exports to China increase by 147 per cent to 46,213 tonnes.

He also gave three other factors that were leading to a change in the Chinese market.

The first of these he noted was that Chinese plastics recyclers have upgraded their processing and recycling equipment to get more value out of both local and imported material.

Another factor he revealed is that Chinese labour costs are increasing and this means that European and US plastics recyclers might now find it cheaper to recycle in their domestic markets.

Finally, he said that it is much easier and increasingly cheaper to set up manufacturing facilities for consumer goods in the US in particular, and China’s competitive advantage in manufacturing cost was disappearing. To a lower extent, he was also noticing this trend in Europe.

He wrote: “Many people doing business in the US usually imported goods from China mainland in the past. As far as the situation in the US, this nation has a large market with 300 million people. But the salary level is not much higher than that in China.

“America’s salary is maybe two times [higher] than Chinese, but some products are made by automatic equipment.”