The increase in the recyclable paper shipments contrasts with a generally challenging environment for U.S. exports, according to port officials, who said wastepaper is the largest export commodity, measured by container volume, shipped from Oakland.
“We can’t be certain if this trend will last, but the figures seem to show that there’s no loss of demand globally,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “It appears that shippers are finding new markets for their scrap paper products.”
The port said it shipped the equivalent of 110,400 20-foot containers of wastepaper in 2018 through October. That accounted for nearly 18 percent of Oakland’s total export volume. Port data shows that nearly all the recyclable paper went to Asia. The product primarily is used to make packaging for billions of dollars of Asian goods exported to the United States.
China, Oakland’s No. 1 trade partner, has reduced scrap paper shipments from the port by 37 percent this year, but neighboring Asian countries have picked up the slack. Oakland scrap exports to Taiwan are up 522 percent in 2018, with shipments to Vietnam up 344 percent.
The port said scrap metal exports have increased 10 percent in 2018, although shipments of the commodity to China have slumped 43 percent. That loss largely has been offset by increased shipments to Taiwan, Vietnam and India.