Recycling prices and market commentary: 29 January 2021


As we come to the end of a very challenging month, recycling industry participants are hoping for a better February although they aren’t sure if that will happen.

Trading into the EU remains challenging, although some are finding a way through, especially if they had prepared early for the paperwork. VAT is also proving to be an issue as it needs to be paid to the destination country and claimed back later, which can take months – this isn’t helping cashflow. Some are even considering setting up offices in the EU to mitigate this.


There are also some reports that exports to Turkey are proving very difficult at present, with the country effectively putting in place measures similar to the Chinese Green Fence programme with a strict inspection programme. This definitely applies to plastics, but it isn’t clear if the same approach is being made on other materials.

Markets are generally subdued, although paper and cardboard prices were up a bit, plastics benefitted from a small PRN/PERN price increase, but some metal grades fell back.

The pound was largely unchanged against the dollar from last week at $1.36. Compared to the euro, it was up a touch on last week from €1.12 to €1.13.

Recycled plastics

The market remains really hard at the moment. Malaysia remains closed until a pre-notification system is sorted out, and as mentioned above Turkey is getting tough on top of the bans on mixed plastics and some other grades.

Sending material into Europe is also very difficult due to all of the haulage, paperwork and VAT issued mentioned above and on this site previously.

However, demand from Europe remains if you can get it there.

With the PRN/PERN price rising by around £5 per tonne this week, this pushed up the price of packaging grades by a similar amount if you can find a buyer.

Some UK plastic recycling industry participants have been sitting on their hands this month, waiting to see how the market will play out and may come back in for February. But expect them to try and pick and choose the best material at the lowest prices as they take advantage of the difficulties in the export market.

Forecast prices


Recycled paper

The paper market remains subdued although prices crept up a little.

Good demand is coming from South East Asia and India for material – OCC especially, and with low generation of UK fibre, is keeping prices in a gradually upwards trajectory. Some feel the heat is coming out of this market though, especially with high shipping costs and lower demand potentially on the way from these destinations. There is also a possibility of a tougher lockdown on the way in Malaysia (unconfirmed at present), which will temporarily put a big hit on buyer demand.

Material is moving into Europe and demand is good for those that can get through all of the bureaucracy.

Looking ahead, buying for February hasn’t really got going as yet, as everyone tries to deal with low arisings, and a challenging international market. With UK mills reportedly well stocked, they aren’t likely to pile into the market either, especially at current price levels.

Forecast prices


Recycled metals

Copper prices saw the biggest drop falling by £200 per tonne. Ferrous grades, including cans, also came down typically by a fiver.

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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