How to choose a reputable recycled plastic trading partner

recycled plastic, plastic recycling industry, scrap plastic suppliers

Traditionally, one of the biggest challenges to anyone doing business in the recycled plastic market has been the uncertainty of what you get from your scrap plastic suppliers. We’ve all heard the horror stories (or, even worse, experienced some of the horror stories for ourselves) of traders who promise the world only to ship an empty truck. Or there are traders who don’t really know what they’re selling, or don’t know where it’s from. If you’re not careful, scrap plastic quality standards and shipping schedules can be inconsistent at best.

Unfortunately, there are too many unvetted, disreputable traders in the plastic recycling industry who are just trying to make a quick profit. Then there are other traders who have good intentions, but who might not have the right relationships, experience and expertise to be able to keep their promises. With any business where there are few barriers to entry and a constant focus on price, this kind of inconsistency is bound to happen.

So if you’re looking to buy scrap plastic to help supply the needs or your business, how do you know who to trust? How can you find a trustworthy, reputable trading partner to supply your business with recyclable plastic?

Whether you’re new to the industry, looking for new relationships with a scrap plastic broker, trader or supplier, here are a few key things to look for in your next recycled plastic trading partner:

  • Industry experience: Are the traders established in the recycled plastic industry, or just a fly-by-night operation? If you’re going to commit your company to a months-long (or year-long) agreement to buy/sell plastic, you want to make sure that the trader is going to be around for the long-term.
  • Testimonials: Does the company have a list of customer testimonials and references? If so, chances are they have a proven track record of keeping their promises and delivering on what customers need. Ask for references. Better yet, call the references. Ask follow-up questions to drill down and get the unvarnished truth and make sure that the references had a good experience working with this scrap plastic trader.
  • Expertise: How much does this trader really know about the plastic recycling industry? Does the company “talk a good game?” Do they sound knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the plastic recycling trade, or are they playing fast and loose with facts and figures? Make sure you’re dealing with real industry experts who have some technical knowledge about this specific commodity market – not “jack of all trades” traders who wouldn’t know #4 plastic from PVC.
  • Accuracy: A good recycled plastic trading firm will understand the complexities, mundane details and deadline-driven nature of the plastic recycling business. They should be able to give you a detailed estimate that accounts for the various factors involved – shipping time, shipping costs, delivery dates, quality assurance, and other expectations for each order.
  • Not always the lowest price: Every company that needs to buy scrap plastic is going to be price-conscious; it’s just the nature of the business. But beware of the trader who always promises the lowest price, without hesitation. Low prices might be a warning sign of future problems with the deal, whether it’s slower shipping, less reliable shipping, inconsistent quality assurance, or hassles and headaches in the customer support experience. The best traders will try to give you a fair price, but they will not be too quick to agree if the price is so low that it undercuts the various valuable components of the deal.

This is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully these ideas can get you started in the right direction. Hopefully our entire industry is heading toward a better model with more integrity and consistency, for both sides of each transaction.

How do you know whether to trust your trading partners when buying or selling scrap plastic? What reassuring signs or “red flags” do you look for?