The market is fully settled into this year now, and seems to be in a buying pattern that is pushing up some paper and plastic grades.
OCC was in strong demand for paper and cardboard, while film in particular increased for plastics – bottle grades were up too though.
The picture was slightly different for metals though, with only copper increasing, and by a relatively small amount.
It appears that getting hold of material is the challenge at the moment, with demand much greater than supply. It is this that seems to be driving the buying pattern that is pushing up some paper and plastic grades.
Trade into Europe is still challenging with disruption to vehicle movements caused by inbound goods checks. As has been reported widely, vehicles are subject to long queues, which is also putting off European drivers coming into the UK.
In terms of foreign exchange, the pound was weaker against the dollar at $1.33 – a figure last seen in mid-December. After dipping to €1.19 in the week, the euro was back to €1.20 as it was this time last week.
There is really strong underlying demand for plastic grades from European buyers. With countries there emerging from lockdowns or restrictions, there is strong demand for material, but not the local supply.
Although logistics remains a challenge, they are finding ways and putting up with the hassle to buy UK polymers.
Film in particular has seen strong underlying support, despite the PRN/PERN price coming off by £10 per tonne this week.
But bottle grades both saw £10 per tonne increases too.
On top of this extra demand from Europe, the approaching Plastic Packaging Tax in the UK seems to be driving prices higher, in some cases more than virgin. Manufacturers are looking to stock up on recycled content to avoid the tax if possible.
However, with high oil and gas prices, this suggests there will be strong underlying foundations for most plastic grades for a while yet.
India was driving the buying pattern for OCC this week with prices in the £150-ish region. It seems they suddenly need material, and with them not able to buy mixed from Europe for at least another four weeks (due to a mistake in EU regulation), they are stocking up on OCC instead.
Anybody else trading was having to respond to this benchmark, and most were at £140 plus.
However, this increase of around £10 per tonne on last week was not seen by mixed paper. With European buyers the driving force for this grade over recent months, they didn’t want the hassle of UK and EU border checks.
Those European buyers who did want material, saw prices increase by £2 or £3, but there was strong resistance about going above that.
With February approaching (and many having already traded for the month), plus the traditional impact on shipping of Chinese New Year, there is uncertainty around whether price increases can be maintained.
Only copper changed value this week, increasing by £50 per tonne.
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