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PE scrap exports down 41% in 1Q on China import ban; surge to Vietnam

HOUSTON, May 16, 2018 (PCW) -- US exports of PE scrap in 1Q totaled 118,833 metric ton, down by 83,210 mt or 41% from 1Q 2017, the latest US Commerce Department data show.

PE is one of five plastic scrap import/export categories tracked by the US government; the others are PET, PVC, PS and unsorted "other" plastic scrap. PE is the largest in terms of export volumes.

The main reason for the drop in 1Q was China's ban on imports of various rubbish and scrap last summer, dubbed Operation Sword. PE scrap exports to China totaled 4,452 mt in 1Q, down from 101,715 mt in 1Q 2017.

Exports to Hong Kong have also been affected by the ban as the autonomous territory serves as a receiving point for many US imports en route to mainland China. US PE scrap exports to Hong Kong in Q1 totaled 6,278 mt, down from 43,558 mt in 1Q 2017.

China and Hong Kong together were on the receiving end of 72% of US PE scrap exports in 1Q 2017.

At the same time, several countries saw a sharp rise in imports of US PE scrap in 1Q. Exports to Vietnam, for example, totaled 15,590 mt, up from 4,787 mt in 1Q 2017. -- Xavier A Cronin

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