Recycling prices and market commentary: 15 February 2019

Plastic recycling
Sorting recycled plastics

There wasn’t a lot of love around for the recycling market this week with traders rightly looking for romance elsewhere.

Again, the overall story is of quiet markets, with a range of reasons to blame.


These include generally weak demand from manufacturers, the after effects of Chinese New Year for those still able to ship there, general lack of demand from export markets while those in the UK were not so enthusiastic about buying either, then next week it is school half term for many.

Some are starting to feel optimistic that as we head into March, some of these factors will disappear and trade will start to pick up. Much will depend of course on whether there is a deal or not on Brexit.

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Despite the first set of monthly data coming out from the National Packaging Waste Database, there was nothing in there to change the PRN/PERN market fundamentally this week.

Although 2018 targets look to have been met for all materials, 2019 still looks like it will be challenging for some.

Brexit woes caused the pound to fall a touch against the dollar to $1.28 compared to $1.29 a week ago, while against the euro it was €1.13 after hovering around €1.14 over the past week.

Recycled plastics

Prices continue to be static, but there are signs that material is in demand from some markets.

After a few quiet weeks, material is flowing into Europe with clear film and HDPE bottles showing signs of interest.

Turkey though continues to be pushing back against taking new material.

Lower grade material demand continues to be weak.

Following publication of the NPWD monthly figures, the PRN price remained the same this week as there wasn’t enough to give an indication of where things are headed.

Analysis by 360 Environmental of the data suggests that the 2018 carry over into 2019 for plastics will be around 25,000 tonnes. While perhaps better than some were expecting, it would still be around 50,000 tonnes down on the figure last year. With tougher targets to meet and a much more difficult export market, it looks like 2019 will be challenging as expected.

Forecast prices


Recycled paper

Trading was very quiet this week.

Chinese buyers were dipping into the market without looking like plunging in. Other destinations were waiting to see if Chinese buyers would push up prices by coming back in strongly after Chinese New Year, but of course they didn’t.

Is there a sense that may happen in the coming weeks? Possibly. For OCC much will depend on US prices, which remain low. It will also be dependent on how much quota mill groups have and where they decide is best value to fill that quota.

One of the interesting patterns this week is that the Chinese buyers were at £75-80 for Chinese specification, with Indian buyers topping out at £75 as there is a bit of demand from there. Without any gap between the two, it would suggest that one will either rise or fall to reflect the higher quality requirements of China.

At the moment, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Indian prices ease off with Chinese buyers likely to sample the market next week.

With European and UK mills happy to pay below this level when they are buying, there isn’t really any competition from there either. Indeed, European mills seem to be on a cycle of only buying at the beginning of the month at the moment.

Mixed paper prices are also easing. UK and European mills are still taking it, especially as prices are falling, but demand has eased off elsewhere. This is partly because Vietnam for example is happy to take extremely cheap US material.

Forecast prices


Recycled metals

Non-ferrous grades remained unchanged this week.

But ferrous grades saw another £10 rise across the board including cans.

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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