This was a decline of 16% from the prior year and a sharp break in the upward trend in imports of recycle polymer that was evident over the last several years. By comparison, China’s imports of virgin polymers of ethylene were up 8% through August, an increase of about 460,000 tons.
Although recycle and virgin polymer are often used to make different end products, the absence of 380,000 tons of recycle polyethylene would appear to be impacting imports of virgin material, given the percentage gain year to date. China’s imports of virgin HDPE actually hit an all-time record high in July, 2013, the year to date total through August of 3.1 million tons up 18%. Recycle HDPE in the form of bottles, jugs and tubs, etc., is a significant component of total recycle PE.