Recycling prices and market commentary: 21 February 2020

A container ready to be loaded for shipping

It was steady as she goes for the recycling market this week, but there are fears that shipping container availability will lead to choppy waters ahead.

With the ongoing coronavirus situation in China, it is being reported that this is leading to a shortage of containers in the UK with ships and boxes stuck at Chinese ports.


As a result, less availability is leading to higher shipping container charges for March, possibly up to $500 more depending on volume of material and destination.

If this proves to pass, it will also suppress prices.

This week though saw no real change for paper grades, and only LDPE 98/2 increased for plastics despite a PRN rise (see more below).

In metals, copper and brass increased as did ferrous grades including steel cans.

The pound dropped a touch against the dollar to $1.29 from $1.30 a week ago, and the euro was at €1.19 from €1.20 last week.

Recycled plastics

A £10 increase in the price of the plastic PRN/PERN was seen this week, and this was reflected in the price of LDPE film in particular.

Both 99/1 and 98/2 increased at the same rate with demand still good from Europe, and to an extent Turkey and Malaysia. UK buyers still remain reluctant buyers due to well stocked yards.

Demand for bottle grades is weak and the PRN/PERN price rise failed to have any impact as prices stayed where they are.

Prices rises for March shipping containers as mentioned above may hit prices in coming weeks if these rises are implemented, but with much trade now using curtainsiders into Europe, the impact may not be as strong as for paper.

Forecast prices

LDPE 98/2463-469461-467

Recycled paper

While prices didn’t move this week, there is a view that prices will come down due to March shipping increases.

Already low exports to China seem to have slowed again with the country entirely focused on dealing with coronavirus.

However, people are starting to return to work amid suggestions that the outbreak might have peaked and authorities are now on top of things.

This could lead to more demand from China again, but it might take a few weeks.

Demand into Indonesia is still good and it is driving the market along with other South East Asian destinations, but there are rumours Indian buyers are looking for prices to drop again.

European mills are still taking material, while UK mills are topping up where necessary.

Forecast prices

Mixed-3 – -5)-3 – -5

Recycled metals

Both copper and brass increased by £50 per tonne this week on the back of LME prices rises.

Ferrous grades were up by £5 per tonne, including steel cans, reversing several weeks of price falls.

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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