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China's New RCP Import Policy Disrupts U.S. and Global Markets

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China's new recovered paper (RCP) import policy, including its ban on unsorted waste paper imports, is disrupting global markets, according to a new report this week by RISI, Boston, Mass., USA. According to the new report, titled Outlook for Global Recovered Paper Markets, this policy is already reshaping a massive global supply chain – from waste collectors to shipping companies to paper producers throughout Asia, the Americas, and Europe. 

"Recovered paper prices have historically been volatile, but the past few months have been a rollercoaster," said Hannah Zhao, RISI senior economist and lead author of the Outlook for Global Recovered Paper Markets. "Even though the timing of China's new import policy was a surprise, it's part of an overall trend we've seen for several years. A key part of this trend is that Asian countries other than China and Japan will drive the largest RCP demand growth rates through 2021."

Worldwide, e-commerce will sustain growth in paper packaging consumption, helping to spur especially strong demand for old corrugated containers (OCC). 

On the supply side, "Recovery rates worldwide have increased greatly since 2000, from 47% to 58.5% in 2016," said Zhao. "This growth is leveling off, as increased availability of virgin woodfiber and reduced Chinese imports will put downward pressure on RCP demand in the short term. Looking ahead five years, we see an opportunity for wastepaper exporters in the U.S. and Europe to develop new trade patterns, selling to a broader mix of paper producers throughout the world."

Now in its 8th Edition, the Outlook for Global Recovered Paper Markets provides:
  • Demand, recovery, and import/export data for all countries, with price histories and forecasts for key regions 
  • 2017-2021 price forecasts for key RCP grades and regions 
  • RCP demand, supply and price forecast in the key regional markets under different Chinese import scenarios 
  • Special focus on China and the European and North American countries most affected by its RCP import restrictions.
 

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