The latest trend of China's plastic recycling industry
Shanghai - China's plastics recycling industry is set to maintain double-digit growth despite government efforts to curb imports of used plastics.
Ning Hongtao, President of the plastics Recycling Committee of the China Plastics Processing Industry Association, said ina speech at the Chinaplas Green Forum 2014 that China remains the world's largest importer of waste plastics, while the amount of domestic waste plastic recycling and utilization is also growing.
He said last year's operation Hedgerow had reduced imports of used plastic by 1m tonnes, not a big drop compared with expectations.
He added that while some senior companies were cutting back on imports or switching to other businesses, new applications for import licences for waste plastics were increasing. China has more than 3,000 registered enterprises importing and processing waste plastics.
At present, the total number of domestic enterprises engaged in waste plastic processing exceeds 10,000.
In China's total waste plastic recycling, the proportion of imports is not very high. According to data compiled by the committee, 7.9 million tons of recycled plastic was imported in 2013, accounting for just over 30 percent of the total of 24.9 million tons.
The EU remains China's biggest source of used plastic imports, accounting for a quarter of the country's total.
More than 40 percent of China's total plastic recycling industry is carried out by large and medium-sized enterprises, Ning said. Most of these enterprises are located in the coastal plastic processing developed areas, with relatively stable import/purchase supply and sales channels, and relatively high profits.
Large recycling enterprises in central and western China are mainly engaged in domestic plastic recycling.
The provinces of Guangdong, Zhejiang, Fujian, Shandong and Hebei are the main distribution and processing centres for recycled plastics, with different priorities for each region.
High grade LDPE films and HDPE materials are mainly recycled in Tianjin, Hebei and Shandong. Zhejiang, Shanghai and Jiangsu require clean PET, HDPE, polypropylene and some engineering materials. Fujian has a great demand for low-grade LDPE films. Guangdong has a large consumption of engineering plastics and parts of PE, PP and PET.
China's plastic recycling rate has climbed steadily over the past five years, reaching 30 percent in 2013.
A large number of small and medium-sized regenerative enterprises have specialized division of labor, efficient logistics distribution network, strong competitiveness and viability. But the companies' overall lack of environmental awareness has become a focus of government regulation. Ning hongtao pointed out that the current policy requires renewable enterprises to adopt more environmentally friendly treatment measures, and it is easier for large enterprises to get policy support, and small enterprises will gradually lose their living space.
Some of the dirtiest small businesses will be pushed out of the market, while others will move into large recycled industrial parks.
'Combined with all these factors, there is an urgent need for regularized and large-scale plastic recycling enterprises in China,' Ning said.