Presenters at the 2017 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference Europe event, held in Warsaw in early November, helped portray the emergence of India and the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region as important destinations for Europe’s scrap materials.
Hrishikesh Vora of Mumbai-based Victory Creations and Paperworks, said capital is being invested in new and upgraded paper mills in India, and that the nation is about to experience “an unprecedented demand for scrap paper.”
He said the “Amazon effect” of increased boxes being shipped to individual homes has expanded to India, where Amazon “has become a household name,” according to Vora. Growth in that sector is spurred in part by India’s demographics, as a nation where 50 percent of the population is 25 or younger.
Vora said India is growing at a 7 percent annual clip as a consumer of finished paper, and the nation’s mill sector will need recovered fiber at a companion rate. “Today, there is tremendous interest in India; it is a land of opportunity.”
He said India’s paper production is being forecast to rise from 15 million metric tons produced in 2017 to 27 million tons produced in 2030. “With that growth, scrap paper will always be in demand,” Vora stated.
Vora said several Indian mills began “setting up supply chains” to bring in scrap paper tonnage from the United States in 2017, and that in 2018 it would be “very interesting in terms of how India will buy its scrap paper.”
Michael McManus of Indonesia-based Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) said that firm has observed how China’s restrictions on scrap paper imports are affecting the overall Asian finished paper market.
APP operates a recycled-content mill in Ningbo, China, and several mills in Indonesia that also consume virgin pulp. With China’s restrictions causing scrap paper costs to rise in that nation, “Costs are increasing in our China operations but are decreasing in our Indonesia operations,” said McManus.
With global supplies of recovered fiber being tight (even with China’s restrictions), McManus said he foresees “more integration with virgin fiber” in Asia in the form of paper machines that can be fed with varying ratios of virgin or recycled fiber. “There are plenty of things that haven’t been done yet” on that front, according to McManus.
Shailesh Gothal of Belgium-based Gemini Corp. described how that company has worked for the past several years to diversify its customer base for plastic and paper scrap to avoid being caught short by sudden regulatory changes in China.
He says Gemini’s exposure to China for the 1,400 containers it ships per month “is only 10 percent.” Said Gothal regarding the topsy-turvy conditions of 2017, “It was pretty easy for us to manage our business while China was closing.”
Gothal said emerging Asian markets such as Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia are likely to follow China’s lead on restrictions, however. “There will be pollution controls that will [curtail] these markets that are coming up,” he predicted.
He said he foresees “very little hope for mixed plastic” as a globally shipped commodity. “Sorted material has to improve, or they’re going to ruin the market for everything,” he stated.