Zhejiang Jingxing fires up 800,000 tpy recycled brown pulp capacity in Malaysia

The recycled pulp project is one of the many overseas investments by Chinese board producers to secure high-quality recycled fiber supply

China’s Zhejiang Jingxing Paper has fired up 800,000 tonnes per year of recycled brown pulp capacity at a new mill in Selangor, Malaysia. The first batch of pulp sheets was churned out on Sunday May 28.

The 800,000 tpy of recycled brown pulp capacity consists of two Voith-supplied old corrugated container (OCC) systems with a combined processing capacity of 2,400 tonnes per day, two pulp dryers provided by Chinese supplier Weifang Hicredit, and a pulp sheet cutting and bailing system from another Chinese supplier, the Chaint Corporation.

The equipment is the first leg of the Chinese board company’s investment scheme, first announced in early 2019, to build total capacity of 800,000 tpy of recycled pulp and 600,000 tpy of recycled containerboard at the mill in Banting, Selangor, which is operated by its Malaysian subsidiary Jingxing Holdings (M).

Zhejiang Jingxing had initially planned to commission the recycled pulp lines by the end of 2021, but the project hit a delay as the Covid-19 pandemic slowed down the application process for environmental permits as well as the construction.

The company has not revealed a timeline for the second half – the installation of 600,000 tpy of recycled containerboard capacity – of the investment scheme.

Weak recycled pulp prices

Part of the recycled brown pulp output of the Selangor plant will be used to feed Zhejiang Jingxing’s own recycled board machines, with a total capacity of around 1.42 million tpy, at its mill in Pinghu city, in the eastern province of Zhejiang in China.

In early May, prior to the start-up of the recycled pulp lines in Malaysia, Zhejiang Jingxing said that it needed to purchase around 120,000 tonnes of recycled pulp per year for its own board production, accounting for 8% of the total raw materials. The company plans to sell the surplus recycled pulp on the Chinese market.

Largely due to soft pricing for recycled packaging board in China, prices for recycled brown pulp have been on the decline this year.

According to Fastmarkets’ price assessment, prices for Asian recycled brown pulp, which is manufactured in India, Southeast Asia and Taiwan using mainly US OCC, have dropped $55 per tonne (CIF China) since January. As for recycled brown pulp manufactured in the US, prices have decreased $35 per tonne since January.

China’s recycled pulp imports grow

Despite the weak pricing, China’s intake of recycled pulp has been on the rise volume-wise.

According to China Customs data, the country imported 1.14 million tonnes of recycled pulp in the first four months of this year, up by 22.4% from the same period of 2022. The volume had risen from 1.68 million tonnes in 2020 to 2.44 million tonnes in 2021 and 2.88 million tonnes in 2022 due to China’s growing demand for the alternative recycled fiber after the country’s total ban on recovered paper (RCP) imports came into force at the beginning of 2021.

Zhejiang Jingxing’s recycled pulp project is one of the many overseas investments in this grade by Chinese board producers to secure supply of high-quality recycled fiber.

Such recycled pulp facilities, mostly located in Southeast Asian countries, process RCP imports, especially US OCC which contains high-strength fiber, into recycled pulp and the output is shipped to China to feed the board machines there.

Malaysia was the largest source of recycled pulp imports to China in 2020, accounting for nearly 420,000 tonnes, or 24.9% of the total imports of that year. But it was soon surpassed by Thailand in 2021, when the Malaysian government announced that it would introduce a stricter RCP import regime, requiring inbound recovered paper (RCP) cargoes to have pre-shipment inspections in the countries of origins, and implemented the policy in July 2022.

In the first four months of this year, around 68.2% of China’s recycled pulp imports came from Thailand. Malaysia’s share has decreased to a mere 7.3%.

This was published in PPI Asia, the industry’s most trusted pulp and paper market news and prices for the Asian region. Want to access more price, news and market analysis like this? Speak to our team to find out more.

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