Recycling prices and market commentary: 1 March 2019

Cardboard ready for recycling

Export markets helped drive some paper grades up this week, with other materials relatively stable.

HDPE bottles saw a small drop in plastics, while brass was the only drop for industrial scrap metal. However, aluminium cans also saw a big drop. More on all this below.


The first day of the Spring months hasn’t brought a spring to the step of traders, with pessimism dominant across all materials.

With Asia still proving challenging, there are also fears that Europe and domestic buyers might be easing back too. Uncertainty around Brexit isn’t helping, particularly with getting hold of lorries a concern.

Indeed, it appears more material is sailing into Europe from Hull as some have sought to build routes from there to place a stake in the ground in the hope of avoiding the expected major disruption at southern ports and Eurotunnel.

Those who are exporting are also facing a stronger pound against the dollar at $1.32 at the time of writing, compared to $1.30 a week ago.

Against the euro, it was hovering just under €1.17 against €1.15 last week. As a result, UK material is a bit more expensive wherever it is being exported.

One interesting bit of news is that it appears the interim Q4 data won’t be published as expected by the Environment Agency. It would normally would have been published yesterday, but now the full data will be at the end of March. This means the carry over figures won’t be available until then, meaning there won’t be any data to base Q1 2019 PRN/PERN trades on.

Recycled plastics

HDPE bottles lost £10 this week on the back of falling demand, and there are signs demand might be affecting LDPE grades too. However, LDPE prices haven’t fallen yet.

Otherwise, prices were relatively stable this week. The plastic PRN has increased a little this week, but not enough to make much of a difference to physical prices at the moment.

The outlook for recycled plastics isn’t looking too good in the short term. A number of respondents reported poor demand from Asian destinations that were taking material, while European and UK demand appears to be easing too.

Forecast prices


Recycled paper

The beginning of the month brought more demand from Chinese buyers than has been seen in recent weeks.

In particular, the smaller exporters providing material to independent mills were the top payers at around £90 per tonne.

The big mill group exporters were a bit below this and were being selective with their demand still weak. However, they were buying in order to get material on the water to avoid blank sailings. Most expect this already weak demand will ease in the coming weeks.

Non-China markets were in the £75 to £80 range with decent UK demand holding up this week.

Mixed also picked up a bit into both Asia and Europe. But news and pam demand is falling, and this was reflected in the price.

Forecast prices


Recycled metals

Brass grades fell by £25 per tonne this week, being the only faller in scrap industrial grades.

With the UK awash with aluminium cans, the price has dropped considerably – by about £150 per tonne. There are a lot more aluminium cans than people want to buy and that has forced the price down.

Recycling prices

For recycled paper prices, click here

For recycled plastic prices, click here

For recycled metal prices, click here

For recycled glass prices, click here

For PRN/PERN prices, click here

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