Recycling prices and market commentary: 5 February 2021

Bales of OCC cardboard for recycling
Bales of OCC cardboard for recycling

There is a lot to think about for those moving recyclate at the moment, with different grades reacting to different conditions.

For example, PET and HDPE bottle prices are down, but film grades have increased again.


OCC has crept up again this week, while other grades were more stable.

Copper, aluminium and lead were also up, but no movement otherwise for the rest of the metal grades.

In the PRN/PERN market, it was also a quiet week. With it being the start of the full 2021 compliance year, and the 2020 transition period now over, the market was waiting to see what will happen, with nobody seeming brave enough to step in as yet.

This is partly driven by an expectation that PRN/PERN prices will rocket this year with tougher targets ahead.

Those moving recyclate faced a benign FX environment for the pound trading against the dollar at $1.36. But it was different with the euro, with the pound jumping to €1.14 from €1.13 a week ago.

Recycled plastic

PET and HDPE bottle prices have eased on the back of less demand.

With lockdowns occurring across the world, there is less on-the-go purchases of soft drinks. In particular, this has hit PET prices, as the price paid for the recycled end product has also fallen.

EU demand is quite weak at the moment, especially as buyers there aren’t desperate to buy and don’t want the paperwork hassle of buying UK material. Those buying in the UK are happy to lower prices.

With HDPE, there is good supply at present from the domestic supply with more people at home during lockdown, and this has just lowered prices a touch.

The situation is different with film, but only 98/2 and 99/1 is attracting good prices and seeing rises. European demand is still driving this and they are happy to buy especially with PERN support.

There is also some unconfirmed talk that India is likely to come back into the market for good film grades, and this has meant some have been keen to secure stock at cheaper prices in case this happens.

Forecast prices

LDPE 98/2280-286276-282

Recycled paper

OCC was the only grade to see a price rise this week.

Interest is coming from EU, India and South East Asia in particular. With low generation of cardboard and a reported shortage of pulp, it is definitely a market where those who have the material can command high prices.

Some are noting that mills are asking to buy, but suppliers just can’t get hold of enough material to sell to them.

But there is always a limit to how high mills are prepared to go, and further price rises will depend on the top level mills are prepared to pay.

UK mills seem to be well enough stocked and aren’t keen to make orders at these prices.

Other grades did not rise this week, although demand for mixed in particular remains strong. This grade could see even more interest if OCC prices keep getting higher.

Forecast prices


Recycled metals

Copper, aluminium and lead all saw price increases this week, following rises on the LME.

The increase for aluminium meant the start of the month brought higher aluminium can prices too.

Ferrous grades were unchanged.

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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