Recycling prices and market commentary: 2 November 2018

Cardboard recycling

PRN and PERN prices have gone crazy this week as the recycling market took in the full impact of the recently published Q3 data.

As reported here last week, the general obligation is the main concern. In previous years, much of the general obligation target would have been filled by either paper or wood PRNs.


But with wood now having such strict targets to meet, paper has become the main focus. It also means that paper is the de facto bottom of the market. As a result, both glass categories and steel are tracking the paper PRN price. These are all currently pricing at around the £25 mark.

Physical prices on some grades are starting to increase, particularly for plastics. But paper and steel have other market reasons for price adjustments. For paper, the price is actually easing down despite the PRN support (more on this below).

Other market influencing factors remain stable. Shipping costs look largely unchanged in November.

Against the dollar, the pound was slightly stronger at $1.30 making UK material slightly more expensive when compared to $1.28 last week. Those sending material into Europe have also been facing a stronger euro at €1.14 compared to €1.12 a week ago.

Recycled plastics

A combination of demand, higher virgin polymer prices and an increasing PRN has helped to push up bottle grades. Both PET and HDPE are in strong demand, with the £75 PRN providing additional support.

However, this needs to be high quality material, as the price of mixed bottles has not responded in the same way. Some are prepared to buy though and sort the material into higher quality, and this has helped to push up the top of the market for best quality mixed bottles.

LDPE film has not benefited in the same way and remains stable. Asian market closure has meant outlets for this material are more limited. Domestic and European buyers continue to want high quality and low prices, and it remains a buyers market.

Forecast prices

1 week           4 week

PET      309-313         305-311
HDPE   530-536         528-534
LDPE    214-220         214-220

Recycled paper

It was a week when the market was trying to work out what to do, rather than knowing as a whole what was going on.

There are still some exports going to China and these are attracting prices of £90 to £95 per tonne for the right specification. While one of the Chinese exporters is still buying, the others are either sampling the market or easing back to just contracted tonnes.

Even at these prices, which are half of what was being paid a few weeks back, there is still a willingness to sell because there is a lot of material around and this is still a good price.

However, most of the market into other Asian destinations, Europe and UK domestic is around £80 to £90. But some are much further below that depending on the quality they are prepared to buy or in efforts to avoid buying at all by giving a low price. For India, this means a price of £65 to £70.

Some destinations, including UK mills that currently don’t want to buy, are even quoting as low as £50 for OCC.

Indeed, one UK mill group is telling the spot market that it has full and has everything it needs until at least Christmas.

Both mixed and news & pam prices were stable this week.

Forecast prices

1 week           4 week

OCC      81-85           81-85
N&P      111-115       111-115
Mixed    42-46          42-46

Recycled metals

Steel grades were the main movers this week with the price rising for all grades including cans increasing by £10 per tonne. It hasn’t impacted on the price as yet, but with the steel PRN price now at £25 per tonne, this could push up the price of cans a touch in the coming weeks. The same may be seen with aluminium cans, with the PRN now at £85 per tonne.

Industrial grades were pretty much unchanged, apart from stainless steel, which has lost £50 per tonne.

Recycled 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


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.