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Focus on Improved Quality and New Sorting Technologies at Plastics Recycling 2018

During the Plastics Recycling Conference in Nashville last week, there was a heavy focus on quality of commodities especially in terms of exports to China. With the full expensing provision in the recently enacted tax reforms, upgrading equipment as well as installing new, more sophisticated sorting technologies to achieve the tighter specifications was explored during several sessions at the conference.

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In a session on “The Business of Plastics Recycling,” ISRI’s Billy Johnson explained the new capital expensing options as ways to usher in better separation systems that are more energy efficient and can offset some of the costs. These expensing options coupled with lower marginal individual and pass-through tax rates will help scrap processors upgrade and improve their operations. Additionally, new equipment will deploy additional safety systems that can improve the operations of scrapyards. The need for more sophisticated sorting and separation technologies and equipment will expand to other commodity segments, especially as China begins implementing tighter quality standards on March 1 and could announce additional regulatory changes to affect metals later this year, said ISRI’s Adina Renee Adler in a session about the effects of China’s regulations on the U.S. plastic recycling industry. 

While a number of speakers at the conference despaired of the challenges China’s new import regulations are creating for scrap plastic trade, in general, speakers and attendees struck a generally optimistic note that the attention, interest and demand for scrap plastic is resulting in new market opportunities in North America and abroad.

For more information on ISRI’s Plastics Division’s activities, please contact Jonathan Levy.

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