Recycling prices and market commentary: 27 March 2020

Cardboard recycling

The international recycling market is grappling with how to deal with the coronavirus situation and how different nations are responding.

It is believed that the lockdown in India applies to ports for example, while anyone moving material to Italy, Spain or Portugal can’t even get their material anywhere near the country. It is a fluid situation and some countries are staying open and others are closing.


For paper grades, there is good demand from Europe in particular, while plastics and metal demand is more suppressed. Glass demand is also increasing as some local authorities, particularly in Scotland, have cut collections of this material.

Indeed, there is a fear that councils will look to cut recycling collections over the coming weeks following the example of Argyle & Bute, Chiltern, Colchester, and St Helens that have already dropped them and are relying on residual waste collections.

With most shops and restaurants closed, high quality retail tonnage has disappeared with the exception of supermarkets that have a lot more material than normal. That means there is more reliance on council collections. If councils cut these, then it will make it harder to provide packaging for food and medicines etc.

In terms of the international recycling market, currencies recovered after dropping like a stone last week. The pound had bounced back to $1.22 against the dollar from $1.17 last week, and up to €1.10 from €1.09 against the euro.

Recycled plastics

Demand for plastics on the international recycling market seems to have weakened over the past week, with international destinations either closing down or reducing the amount of material they buy.

While bottle prices stayed the same due to the more domestic and European nature of recycling these, film grades suffered. Far Eastern demand for LDPE has dropped off, although there is a sense that it might recover in the coming weeks as nations there start to return to normal.

UK and European buyers of film have less interest though, and this helped prices to fall.

While the plastic PRN/PERN remained the same this week as last week, people are wondering where it is likely to move in the coming weeks and months. With many producers currently closed, buying PRN/PERN’s over the next quarter is likely to be a low priority, especially if they aren’t trading. Depending on how long they remain closed, could this lead to a crazy second half of the year? Possibly, but who knows how this will play out.

Forecast prices

LDPE 98/2352-358367-373

Recycled paper

OCC and mixed paper prices increased this week, but that didn’t happen for news & pam that actually dropped quite a bit.

Although India appears closed, and this will be a big loss, European buyers were desperate for OCC and mixed. As they have been in lockdown for longer, and some nations are completely shut, mills are running short of stock.

Up to £65 per tonne was being paid by some European buyers of OCC, but other offers were much below this. There was also the challenge of getting hold of material due to less retail tonnage being available, and there is hope this might push the price higher in coming weeks.

Mixed was also in demand, and in may cases, a small but positive payment was made for it.

News & pams dropped significantly though, with expected less newspaper readership due to the crisis behind the fall.

Forecast prices

Mixed-2 – 2-2 – 2

Recycled metals

While copper was up by £150 per tonne, brass, aluminium and ferrous grades all dropped in price.

Both aluminium and steel cans fell on the back of drops on the LME for the virgin materials.

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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