Trends in Recyclable Polypropylene Trade, and Proposed Changes to the Harmonized System (HS)

The volume of recyclable polypropylene that can be identified as traded globally was 862,000 tons in 2023, up 25% from 2022. Western Europe accounted for more than half of the total, based on available statistics.

Global trade volume is currently understated because statistics specifically for recyclable PP are available only for 52 countries. Other countries combine recyclable PP with recyclable PET and other polymers, excluding recyclable PE, styrenics and PVC, that are identified separately. If interested, this can potentially be changed by an appeal to the World Customs Organization.

Recyclable PP is waste, parings and scrap of polymers of propylene, both post-consumer and post-industrial, that must be further processed in order to make new products.

Because all EU countries have a specific HS code for recyclable polymers of propylene (HS 39159011), Western Europe’s trade is complete and accounts for the majority of visible trade. Western Europe experienced substantially expanded intra-regional trade in 2022 and 2023 and relatively smaller increases in exports to and imports from other regions.

Western Europe’s exports are split roughly equally between Eastern Europe (mainly other EU members plus Turkey) and Asia-Pacific (mainly Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia). In 2023, a year marked by weak demand and a fall in virgin polymer prices, Western Europe’s exports of recyclable PP rose by about 10,000 tons from 2022. Shipments to Eastern Europe were steady but exports to Asia-Pacific rose by 8000 tons and 2000 tons went to Africa, up from 600 tons in the prior year.

The World Customs Organization (WCO) is responsible for the Harmonized System of coding used by all countries to identify products traded. The next update to the HS will be in 2027. Prior to that time companies and, especially industry groups and other interested organizations, can request HS code changes. If you would like to request that the WCO create a new, unique, 6-digit HS code for recyclable PP (or recyclable PET, or other recyclable products) here is the link to World Custom’s Organization’s information on “Amending the HS”

From International Trader Publications Identified Recyclable Polypropylene World Trade Analysis, a continuously updated analysis of trade based on all available statistics.