• Leadership Update

Responding to Thailand’s Plastics Import Ban

For a number of years, Southeast Asia has been viewed as a high growth export market for scrap exports – no more so than now with the shifts in China. At the direction of the ISRI Trade Committee, ISRI is investigating the feasibility of a trade mission in 2019 to this dynamic market, and Thailand has been identified as a potential destination for the mission because of the size of its economy, industrial growth potential, and favorable location in the region.

Although China’s scrap import restrictions can create unique trade opportunities in Southeast Asia, unfortunately, we are receiving reports that some of the trade diverted from China has occurred in such high volumes and within such a short period of time as to overwhelm ports throughout the region. We previously reported on Vietnam, but late last month, we learned that Thailand has had to institute a ban on plastic scrap imports.

The ban was instituted out of concern about illegal imports of electronic scrap and the huge volume of plastic scrap. There are reports that the Thai government has investigated more than 2,200 plastic recycling facilities for illegal trade, environmental compliance, and poor business practices. As a result, according to industry sources, an estimated 20,000-30,000 containers are sitting idle in and around Thailand’s ports.

This week, ISRI met with officials from the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington (a meeting scheduled before the import ban was announced). The meeting was an opportunity to promote the benefits of recycling and the strong potential for increased trade in scrap with Thailand. But we also took the opportunity to discuss the plastic scrap ban in an effort to find a collaborative approach to ensuring that poor trade practices by others are not an impediment to growing legitimate trade of scrap commodities. We also discussed the market potential to be highlighted if ISRI takes a trade mission to Thailand.

Please contact Adina Renee Adler if you have any questions.

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