RWI Positionen

RWI Positionen 70

Der Markt für Recyclingkunststoffe im Umbruch

by Jochen Dehio and Michael Rothgang

07/2018, 10 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-633-8



Since the beginning of 2018, China is regulating its imports of plastic scraps, especially of such ones that stem from consumption. What may sound like a mere footnote of China’s trade policies could in fact pose a severe risk to the European recycling industry. China buys huge amounts of European plastic scraps each year. In Germany, roughly one third of all materially utilized plastic went to China and Hong Kong. Coincidentally, a new quota imposed by the European Union will increase plastic scraps supply. Furthermore, new bans on certain plastic products aim at decreasing the amount of plastic scraps disposed in the oceans. This will compound the problem of declining Chinese demand.
This RWI Position yet demonstrates: European markets are ready to take on the challenge. The altered Chinese policy is no serious threat to plastic recycling industries in the medium and long run. With respect to the short and medium run, there will be an excess supply. However, not all market segments are affected in the same way which might offset the effects. For instance, the high-quality plastic scraps market could bear the burden of excess supply. At the same time, new buyers are on the rise – both in emerging countries as well as in Germany. Policymakers should aim at closing recycling circles, setting incentives to avoid waste and complying with environmental standards.