Recycling market commentary: 16 March 2018


The market remained in the doldrums this week with participants struggling to feel enthusiastic about where the market is headed.

Although the market is quiet, and is expected to remain so throughout March, material is moving and people are on the whole finding a home for it, even if it is a struggle.


At times, it appears that the priority is to move material on, even if margins are proving tricky to find for some.

In terms of materials, there was a slight increase for OCC but news & pam fell, plastics were stable, and in metals ferrous grades increased.

Looking at market influencers, the pound strenghtened slightly against the dollar this week, reaching the upper end of $1.39 compared to the bottom end of $1.38, making UK material slightly more expensive. But probably not by enough to make a huge difference.

Shipping prices also remain stable, and still relatively cheap and container availability is good for most.

In the PRN market, aluminium appears to be on the way down, but there is some talk that paper may head upwards towards £5 as the year goes on.

This is because the China ban on mixed paper (even though it only qualified for part of a PERN), and the restrictions on OCC and other grades, means there might be more challenge in meeting targets.


The plastic market remains challenging, but people are generally finding home for most materials.

LDPE remains a particular challenge though, while bottle grades and industrial plastics are slightly easier to shift.

The stable and high price of the PRN is helping to keep the market for plastics ticking along.

But the problem is that it is a challenge to make marking on the material, with buying cheaply and then selling it cheaply the pattern on the whole.

At least it is possible to move it, and the PRN is helping that by giving some support to hard-pressed plastics traders.

It seems this challenging market is likely to remain until the lost capacity from China is rebuilt elsewhere.

See plastic pricing data at the bottom of the page here


News & pam was the main faller this week losing around £20 off its value.

This is because of a fall in demand, compounded by more supply on the market. The supply is coming as more sorting is taking place of mixed paper, and this is extracting more N&P, putting more on the market.

OCC increased slightly in price this week as Chinese buyers are paying a small premium for the best quality material.

However, with Blue Sky 2018 in place at Chinese ports to check for the 0.5% contamination limit, mill groups are being cautious until they are more certain how the new inspection regime will affect them.

At the moment, any bales of OCC that appear to have too much mixed paper are being picked up and rejected. The 0.5% is being enforced rigidly.

See paper pricing data at the bottom of the page here


Ferrous grades increased by £5 per tonne as continued demand pushed up its value.

See metal pricing data at the bottom of the page here

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