Changes to International Recycling Policy Force Manufacturers to Search for Alternatives


This Thomas Index Report is sponsored by PolyClean Technologies, a leading provider of customized processing solutions for high value and specialty polymers.

Hello again. This week we’re going to take a look at sourcing activity for Plastic Recycling Services by users of the platform. Our data shows that over the past 12 weeks, sourcing activity for this category is up 49% over its historical average.

Our firmographic buyer data shows that three of the top industries driving this trend are Consumer Goods & Services, Business Services, and Plastic Resin Manufacturing.

Over the past quarter century, the U.S. shipped nearly 27 million tons of plastic waste to China and other countries, rather than recycling it or sending it to our landfills. That practice changed in January of this year when China’s “National Sword” policy went into effect. The policy severely restricts the amount of plastic waste China will import, in the country’s heightened focus on improving its environmental conditions.

This policy has resulted in a huge glut of recyclable plastic waste materials here in the US, where it is piling up at recycling facilities and ending up in landfills. China’s policy has caused a major upheaval in the global recycling supply chain, eliminating a huge profitable export market for recyclable waste, and leaving government and industry looking for new solutions.

Manufacturers are being urged to implement “lightweighting,” which means using fewer materials to create products. They’re also being urged to buy and use recycled materials, and use them in the manufacture of their own products. Many states are now considering adopting ‘producer responsibility’ laws that will require manufacturers to bear the cost of the ultimate disposal of their products. Ultimately, this is a huge and ongoing challenge, and we expect to see the demand for plastic recycling services to continue its upward trend for the foreseeable future.

In addition to sourcing for Plastic Recycling Services, our data also shows that sourcing activity is up 14% month over month for Waste Disposal Services, which could be attributed to businesses trying to cope with the plummeting demand for post-industrial plastic waste.

Moving on from Plastic Recycling Services, here’s a look at the top ten industrial product and service categories being sourced on the platform over the past four weeks. 

  1. Steel
  2. Printed Circuit Boards
  3. Injection Molded Plastics
  4. CNC Milling
  5. Metal Fabrication
  6. Metal Stampings
  7. CNC Machining
  8. Corrugated Boxes
  9. Machining
  10. Special & Custom Machinery (Designers, Builders & Manufacturers)

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Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next week.

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