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March 16, 2005


Plastic Traders (or Traitors?)

    As some of you may know on May 27, 2005 PP and LDPE will hit the open market as a commodity featured on the London Metal Exchange (LME). This is an exciting time for the plastics industry; besides international acknowledgment we will actually have access to a set market value for the material we work. It also means a new generation of Traders will be injected into the local marketplace.
    These Traders will most likely be one of two things: A) A former commodity trader. or B) A plastics processor trying to grab a bigger piece of the poly-pie.
    I am looking at the pie from the recycling/processing (post consumer/industrial) aspect. Here ‘s what I predict:
    Needless to say we (in the recycling industry) are all bound for a year of fumbling. Rejected loads will fly around like beach balls at a KISS concert, and miscellaneous parcels of material will multiply in every dark corner of our grand Continent. After
approximately one year (yes for all you veterans, I've only been around for about 400 days) I know one thing for certain: Plastic is different from coffee.
    Let’s say you have 100,000 lbs. of "Genetically Engineered Caffeine Bean Coffee" ready to be traded on the open market. While the coffee was in production in some dreary third world country a poor peon dropped a pocket full of "Star-Bux Value Brew Coffee Beans” into the parcel. The coffee gets sold to Finland (Note: One of the biggest coffee consumers in the world) and chances are, no one in a million years will ever be able to tell. But with plastic, let's say I have a parcel of ABS, and the same poor peon drops a handful of PVC into a box of regrind. No doubt I will get a friendly phone call from a secondary plastics processor to the tune of "I'm not paying you, and you owe me X amount of money for ruining an entire melt." Suddenly writing for Plastics.com is my only past time. Similar issues like this will soon run amuck in the recycling sector.
    How can I make such predictions? Well to start I've had plastic rejected from China, India, Korea, Taiwan, America, and the local Canadians. Simply due to the fact I was looking at plastic from a metal traders point of view, which is a viral problem right now (giving everyone fair warning). If you’re a processor, and considering to purchase recycled material, do what you can to ensure you product.
    Also, I beg of my audience, don't judge all recyclers by my blunders. I am now a year older, and wiser - meaning I've learned to add the term "Sorting Goods" to the end of my product descriptions.

And Remember: Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else.


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