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"UK recovered fibre and plastic quality is relatively good, but by no means the best" say Chinese reprocessors

UK recovered paper exporters must continue to increase the quality of their material to secure orders from China, which remains the key export market.

According to research carried out on behalf of the Waste & Resources Action Programme, paper production in India and Indonesia is forecast to grow steadily across the next ten years.

However, due to domestic fibre being generally cheaper than imported, it seems increasing levels of paper are likely to be recovered from the domestic market instead of importing it in.

In its report, China Market Sentiment Survey, WRAP found China remained the UKs biggest export market. Despite increasing its focus on domestically recovered paper in 2009, China still needs to ensure sufficient proportions of high quality fibre are used to compensate the lower quality domestic fibre. As a result, it imported 39 per cent of its recovered paper from the US in 2009.

WRAP found that quality, as well as cost, was a key factor influencing reprocessors as to which country they buy from. Almost all respondents (98%) cited moisture content as an important quality factor and 86 per cent reported contamination with non-fibre materials. A third of respondents felt fibre length also related to quality. 

The report revealed that reprocessors complained about the amount of moisture in UK paper caused by the British weather and outdoor storage. 

Although 73% of respondents chose the UK as one of the top three countries to import from in terms of quality, it was by no means the best. Some respondents even suggested that the quality of UK paper in some cases may be a deterrent to buying further stock from the UK. However WRAP explained that it is difficult to disentangle quality from price considerations.

WRAP director of market development Marcus Gover said quality was especially important particularly as import controls tighten. We must remember that the UK is only one of many sources of recovered materials for China. So despite the positive outlook from China, we remain vigilant of our own export quality, and conscious of the quality our competitors can produce.

The UK was the second top country in terms of plastic quality, with the US coming first. But with 54% of respondents choosing the UK, 46% chose the US, Germany and Japan as the top three countries, showing there is room for improvement.

Results showed that just under half of the respondents (48%) said that they anticipated a higher proportion of paper would be sourced from the Chinese domestic market. Additionally, the constant assessment of material price and quality reveals respondents remain open as to where they would source in the future, not confirming whether they will buy the same amounts from the UK over the next 12 months as the previous 12 months. Therefore, with this degree of competition in the marketplace, WRAP said research suggested there was little room for complacency.


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