Recycling prices and market commentary: 6 December 2019

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

Recycled paper trading remains in the doldrums as many start to introduce charging mechanisms to clients to ensure they can make money from their material.

Prices for mixed paper in particular dropped this week, as it proves to be a tricky grade to find an end market for. OCC was stable, but still priced at a very low level.


Plastic packaging grades saw a boost from a rising PRN/PERN, although only bottle grades benefited from the full increase.

Metal prices fell for copper and brass grades, but ferrous grades increased again.

Demand for materials from global manufacturing looks mixed at the moment. This week’s PMI announcements saw an improving picture from China and US. China at 50.2 was back above the 50 threshold that shows growth and the US increased to 52.6 in November from 52.2 in October.

While the UK PMI increased to 48.9 in November, from 48.3 in October, it was still in decline territory. This was also the case with EU manufacturing, which increased to 46.9 in November from 46.6 in October.

There might be some optimism to be had with UK and EU manufacturing, but this is only a case that rates of decline in manufacturing are slowing.

In terms of foreign currency, the pound gained against the dollar to $1.31 from $1.29 a week ago, making UK material more expensive on international markets.

There was also a gain against the euro from €1.17 last week to €1.18 this.

Recycled plastics

As we come towards the end of the 2019 compliance people, those who still need to buy plastic PRNs/PERNs in order to comply were active in the market.

This helped to push up its price by £20 per tonne.

Bottle packaging grades followed suit, increasing by the same rate.

But the best quality film grades only increased by £10 per tonne. While there was strong demand from Europe, UK buyers were reluctant to enter into an increasing market due to being full or well stocked. Although there were some instances of matching European prices, this wasn’t across the UK market.

With demand for film also weaker in deep sea destinations from a combination of tighter regulation in some countries and more choice of supply for those who will still accept it, this helped to keep the price of film a bit more suppressed this week.

Forecast prices

LDPE 98/2501-507505-511

Recycled paper

Recycled paper trading is extremely tough and nobody expects any improvement before Christmas. In fact, nobody expects any improvement in the weeks after Christmas either.

Many merchants are now introducing charging mechanisms for collection from clients, with the promise of rebates if and when the market price improves.

Mixed paper in particular has fallen as buyers become increasingly difficult to find. While some of the very best quality material is moving to Europe and South East Asia, this isn’t typically post-consumer and prices for this are around £10 at best.

Post-consumer mixed can be anywhere from a £20 charging fee to a very small price paid (as in a pound or two) depending on the quality.

OCC was stable this week, although not a huge amount was being traded. Some have left the market altogether and don’t expect to be back in before Christmas, while others are still finding some appetite for high quality material into Europe, Turkey, India and a small amount to South East Asia. Chinese and UK mills aren’t particularly active.

Forecast prices


Recycled metals

Copper grades fell by £75 per tonne this week on the back of falling demand for the industrial metal.

Brass also dropped, losing £25 per tonne.

However, ferrous grades including steel cans, saw a £5 increase in price.

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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