Recycling prices and market commentary: 10 January 2020

Cardboard OCC
Cardboard OCC in a bale

The new year brought a little bit more optimism for the paper recycling traders while plastic bottles saw a rise on the end of 2019 with film unchanged.

For metals, both copper and brass saw increases.


It is true to say that across the different material types, this first full week back to work was busy for the market, as many had opted to take a decent break over the Christmas market.

With additional Christmas material still flooding into MRFs and transfer facilities, maintaining quality while dealing with quantity has proved a challenge. However, quality is increasingly recognised as export markets continue to push for commodities rather than a recyclate close to waste.

In the currency markets, the pound was virtually unchanged against the dollar compared to the end of December at $1.30. Compared to the euro, it hadn’t changed much over the same period and was this week still at €1.17.

Now we are in January, the PRN/PERN market is still in transition but largely trading for 2020. This has seen some adjustments in price for the materials that have been traded so far. In particular, paper and plastics have risen in value, but aluminium has fallen – more on this below.

Recycled plastics

On the surface, physical material prices seem to be unchanged at the beginning of this year, compared to the end of 2019.

However, the underlying picture was a little bit different.

PRN/PERN prices have risen at the start of the 2020 trading period to around £300 per tonne from £285 on 20 December. In recent months, this would have been reflected in an increasing physical material prices.

In the case of PET and HDPE bottle grades, prices did rise on the back of the increased PRN/PERN.

But slightly softer demand for film grades from Europe and still permitted Asian destinations meant no change in price compared to the end of last year. European demand is said to have picked up in recent days following the return to work, and Asian demand looks set to be steady.

Forecast prices

LDPE 98/2475-481480-486

Recycled paper

There was a little but more momentum in the OCC market in the first full week of the year. Whether this is here to stay remains to be seen.

With Indonesia now back into the market, paper recycling traders there were honouring contracts that were agreed prior to the temporary shutdown of the country and these prices may not last. This meant that OCC was trading at up to £40 per tonne into Indonesia.

But this was high compared to the rest of the market. The limited trade into China was attracting prices from mid-£20s to around £30 per tonne. Although quota was issued by Chinese authorities for imports of 2.78 million tonnes there is a fear that this could represent half of the 2020 quota, which in itself would be a 50% fall on 2019.

With China’s new draft solid waste law seeking to gradually reduce imports to zero, this could be happening quite dramatically over this and next year.

OCC for India was trading in the low £20s, while UK and other destinations was below that.

Mixed paper demand has fallen again, especially now that exports to India have been halted following the introduction of tough inspection measures. The result of this is that prices have fallen to below zero.

There is also talk that news & pam is increasingly hard to move, and this has been reflected in a small price fall this week.

Forecast prices


Recycled metals

Copper increased by £100 per tonne this week, and brass by £50 per tonne this week on the back of more international demand reflected on the LME.

The PRN/PERN price for aluminium packaging fell though to approximately £248 from £280 at the end of 2019. It is expected that volatility will again be strong this year.

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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