The PRN/PERN market was the key conversation point for the recycling market again this week.
Volatility was particularly prevalent in the plastics sector with the PRN/PERN price rising rapidly as the week went on.
But paper and steel PRN/PERN prices rose too.
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Otherwise, it was reportedly a very quiet week on the market. Trading in paper, plastics and packaging grade metals was very subdued. Industrial metals were a little stronger.
Arisings of material are low, not aided by a very late Easter this year. There is some hope that the Easter holiday period will kick some more material into the market as people go shopping.
The problem though is that demand is also weak, with UK, European and Asian buyers all not too bothered to take material at the moment. With the global economic situation looking increasingly uncertain, they are not wanting to overstock with material.
If they are trading and exporting, conditions have been slightly in their favour this week. The increased PRN/PERN price for paper and plastics can help to make the export price slightly more advantageous.
Plus, despite rising in the last day following the short Brexit extension, the pound was still lower than last week at the time of writing. It was $1.31 compared to almost $1.33 a week ago, meaning UK material was cheaper for deep sea destinations.
After rising to close to €1.18 a week ago, the euro had slumped down to €1.15 this week, but had regained some ground to finish the week at €1.16. Again, this meant UK material into Europe was a little cheaper than last seven days ago.
Trading volumes were low this week as many actively avoided the market. There were two key reasons for this.
One was that both supply and demand was poor.
The other, for packaging grades, was that there was a wait and see approach to the PRN/PERN market. With volatile and rapidly rising pricing this week, there was a sense of panic as people realised the UK plastic packaging industry is unlikely to be compliant this year.
There was no new publication of data, just a growing sense that PRN/PERN prices look set to rise earlier. But as they rose rapidly, that put off people from trading physical material, in case the PRN/PERN price rises even higher. It was therefore a case of wait and see in both markets.
Nobody is quite sure how high prices will go, and if this is a short-term bubble, or more indicative of a market that believes the PRN/PERN price was undervalued when looking at the compliance situation for 2019.
Until the PRN/PERN market stabilises, if it does, physical trading will be affected too.
It was a very quiet week with trading into UK, European and Asian mills all poor. Many people did not buy anything this week, and sellers did not have much to sell anyway.
There are rumours that European mills are starting to consider maintenance shutdowns as they are overstocked with finished goods as it is. It wouldn’t be a surprise if demand falls even further into Europe over the coming weeks and maybe even months.
Prices remained stable for material that was traded, but there is a sense that the bottom of the market might not have been reached yet.
With next week effectively the first buying week of April, and many now trading monthly, we might see a bit of a pick-up. With the PRN/PERN value rising, and the pound a bit weaker, this might also incentivise a small price rise. But it might slump back again the week after if demand falls.
Traditionally, UK mills have used the Easter period as a good time to stock up on material, but that doesn’t look set to happen this year as they appear to have most of what they need anyway.
Copper grades saw a £50 increase this week, and aluminium grades (including cans) increased by £25 per tonne.
This was a reflection of an increasing market on the LME driven by a little more demand.
The steel PRN/PERN price also rose this week, so that might help a small increase in can prices if it stays at this level or rises further.
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