Lack of Containers, COVID Cited

Los Angeles, CA—The port of Los Angeles is experiencing a backlog in ships that is is able to service. Recently the number of ships awaiting unloading at the port in San Pedro, CA was at a high of 30.  Their cargoes, including non-ferrous metal items meant for scrap metal recycling facilities in the United States, have to wait to be unloaded. For an eye-opening map of the shipping backlog you can view the article on Freight Waves.

Shipping containers with scrap metal for recycling Los Angeles
Delayed shipping containers with scrap metal for recycling in Los Angeles

A dearth in the availability of shipping containers which began last year is blamed for part of this backlog. The decision of the Chinese government to ban imports of U.S. scrap metal has had the effect of increasing shipping costs. Unable to ship secondary metals from the U.S. to China, the price to shop items from China to North America has risen substantially.

The backlog is predicted to continue through the summer of 2021 in Los Angeles as well as east coast ports such as Savannah Georgia. Other west coast ports have substantial backlogs as well—San Francisco having at least 16 ships awaiting unloading.

Los Angeles port backup is affecting local recycling centers

Some of the problem can be attributed to the affects of COVID-19. Social distancing rules have played a role in the delay of offloading shipping containers worldwide.  Some ports in other countries such as Ho Chi Minh City in Viet Nam have stopped accepting certain types of shipping containers for the time being because the backlog has made it difficult to service ships already waiting in the harbor.

Regardless, the scrap metal recycling industry in Los Angeles continues to function at a brisk pace and local recycling centers are scrambling to keep their throughput up. While COVID has had a global affect on the industry, smaller scrap yards in the United States and Southern California in particular have not (yet) felt the affects of the shipping container dilemma.