Importing PVC polymer – some points to consider
We get asked lots of questions about importing PVC polymer. Anti-dumping duties have to be considered
and of course there are the regular issues of quality and reliability of supply.
What about reliability of supply?
We would never recommend sourcing entirely from overseas but why not buy a portion of your
requirements from imports? Some polymers can be supplied very cheaply indeed and are entirely suitable
for less demanding applications. Others can be supplied to a quality that would be hard to match from
local production. Let’s be quite honest however, the cheaper and more obscure the source of supply the
longer it’s going to take to get here.
Most overseas producers will only sell on the basis of a letter of credit. This means that someone,
somewhere, has to finance the sale. is it you or is it the distributor or agent. If you open your L/C are you
really going to get your goods shipped? What’s worse, is your L/C going to be paid out and where is your
polymer? Don’t laugh, it happens!
International trade runs on documents – if you, your agent or your bank loses your documents you may
end up having paid for your polymer while it languishes in the State Warehouse collecting demurrage
2. What Polymer ?
Polymers from different manufacturers, ostensibly of the same specification, differ considerably. South
African polymers are particularly consistent, important in some applications but over engineered in
others. Can your production staff cope with the possible variability?
For most footwear applications cost is a very important consideration and the quality of the polymer less
so. About the only quality consideration is can it absorb plasticiser during compounding and, for light
coloured soling, make sure it’s not too yellow.
At the demanding end of the quality range are the glass clear foils and bottles – especially those where
you extrude from dry blend without going through an intermediate compounding process. You have to
worry about heat stability (because of your final colour and your need to use recycle), freedom from nibs
and gels, good porosity (so you can get your stabilisers right into the particles during mixing) and particle
For pipes it depends very much on your operation and what you are making. If you are into pressure pipes
then you want consistency of gelation and wall thickness – this means uniform porosity and bulk density.
In non pressure pipes you might be looking for the highest possible output rate – in this case higher bulk
densities are needed.
For cable insulation you need good electrical properties – usually measured by an extract conductivity test
on the polymer. High speed telephone wire insulation is also demanding, only polymers with the best
plasticiser absorption characteristics and very low gel counts work well.
Most producers supply in multiwall paper sacks – perfectly acceptable for export. bags are generally loose
stuffed in 20ft containers or, more rarely, palletised (1.375mt) and wrapped in 40ft containers.
Big end users in this country, particularly pipe convertors use bulk PVC polymer supplied in road tankers.
This adds a new dimension to logistics and will you, the convertor, allow an imported polymer to be
pumped in on top of the domestic product. Bulk PVC polymer is available from very selected producers in
liners in 20ft containers, otherwise known as ‘C-bulk’. Intermediate packing sizes such as “big bags”
ranging from 800-a.275mt capacity can also be sourced.