• Weekly Market Report

Commodities: Scrap Trade Flows

Ferrous: After getting off to a strong start at the beginning of the year, monthly U.S. ferrous scrap exports were trending lower in subsequent months.


  • Ferrous scrap exports (excluding stainless steel and alloy steel scrap) fell from 1.3 million metric tons in March to 1.05 million tons in April 2020, according to the most recent Census Bureau trade statistics.
  • But for the year-to-date, ferrous scrap exports are still up 12.4% as compared to Jan-Apr 2019 to 5.16 million mt thanks to the strong start to the year.

  • By major destination, there have been significant gains this year to Turkey (+22.3%), Malaysia (+91.4%), Mexico (+56.7%), Bangladesh (+53.4%), Pakistan (+38.8%) and Thailand (+193%), more than offsetting losses to South Korea, Vietnam, Canada, Indonesia, and others.
  • Here’s the breakdown of recent U.S. ferrous scrap exports by volume and major destination:


  • U.S. copper and copper alloy scrap exports declined from around 64,000 metric tons in March 2020 to 53,327 mt in April 2020.
  • Decreased shipments to India contributed to the April decline.
  • For the year-to-date, U.S. copper scrap exports are down 21 percent to 242,000 metric tons.
  • YTD copper scrap exports have declined significantly to Malaysia (-38%), China (-40%), and Canada (-20%) through April, more than offsetting gains to S. Korea, Germany, Belgium, and Vietnam.

  • U.S. aluminum scrap exports (including UBCs and RSI) declined from +163,000 mt in March 2020 to 124,400 mt in April 2020.
  • Reduced trade with India, Canada, Mexico, and to a lesser extent South Korea and Indonesia, contributed to the monthly decline.
  • For the year-to-date, U.S. aluminum scrap exports are down 6.5% to 582,175 mt during Jan-Apr 2020.
  • India has become the largest export market for U.S. aluminum scrap this year, with shipments up 28% through April, while exports to Malaysia are up 69% YTD, but those gains have been more than offset by reduced shipments to China (-58%), Hong Kong (-23%), Canada (-24%), and other markets.

U.S. Plastic Scrap Exports

  • Compared to the previous month, April 2020 plastic exports decreased nearly 10 percent to 42,138 metric tons.
  • April, year-over-year (YOY), plastic scrap exports were down over 34 percent.
  • And for the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period last year, plastic were down 21.5 percent to 183, 286 metric tons.
  • Canada remains the top country followed by Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Vietnam.
  • Notable increases for April 2020 YTD: Latvia’s 14,803 percent increase, to 2,683 metric tons;Vietnam’s 246 percent increase to 13,122 metric tons; Malaysia’s 124 percent increase to 32,204 metric tons.

  • By U.S. plastic export commodity type, PVC scrap and Other plastic scrap realized double digit gains in April 2020 from March: PVC scrap increased 15.5 percent; Other plastic scrap increased 11.6 percent.
  • The other commodity types decreased in April 2020 from March: PS scrap plummeted 43.1 percent; PE scrap fell nearly 20 percent; PET scrap fell nearly 33 percent.

U.S. Recovered Paper and Fiber Paper Scrap Exports

  • Compared to the previous month, April 2020 paper exports decreased 16.7 percent to 1,056,057 metric tons.
  • April, year-over-year (YOY), paper exports were down over 30 percent.
  • And for the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period last year, paper exports were down 18.6 percent to 4,774,575 metric tons.
  • The top 10 countries receiving U.S. paper exports in the first four months of 2020 accounted for more than 91 percent of exports.
  • Three Asian countries in the top 10 received more U.S. paper scrap exports through April 2020 than they did the same period last year: Vietnam up 26.6 percent; Malaysia up 24.6 percent; Taiwan up 1.4 percent.

  • All U.S. paper scrap commodity types realized decreases in April 2020 from March.
  • Newsprint was down over 34%, the greatest monthly decline.
  • Mechanical pulp was down the least at 7.4 percent.

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