US exports of recyclable polymers fell from nearly 2 million tons in 2016 to 624,000 tons in 2020. The rate of decline slowed from 2018 through 2020 but new US government initiatives to cut greenhouse gases and reduce plastic waste may have an impact.
Imports into Eastern Europe were particularly strong. Imports into Asia-Pacific also increased, despite China’s import ban. Expanded trade within Western Europe, Eastern Europe and North America were also factors in the increase.
The need for PMMA film and sheet in personal protective equipment resulted in a stunning surge in imports into countries all over the globe during the April – August 2020 period, and also record exports from several.
The volume of isocyanates (combined MDI, TDI and other) traded through May 2020 was down 10% from the same period last year, based on latest available statistics. Asia-Pacific and Western Europe, accounting for more than half of global trade volume, each saw trade contract within their regions, with lower imports.
The US shipped 406,000 tons of recycle polymers through July, 2019, down 46% from the same period in the prior year. China’s total ban on imports of recycle polymers as of 2018 was a key factor in the decline. Further declines in US exports are expected as India has announced it will also ban all recycle polymer imports.