Recycling prices and market commentary: 6 March 2020

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

The UK recycling market tended to be softening or static on the whole this week with shipping continuing to be a challenge.

Container availability is expected to be difficult at least until the end of April with ships still leaving or stuck in Asian ports.


Most regions in China are starting to return to normal, or will do over the next week or so, and that should help release some ships from the dockside. The problem is they will take at least six weeks to get here.

Boats that are heading east are commanding a premium for containers with anything between $1,300 and $2,000 not unusual. Of course, this is adding to the cost of moving material and is a downward pressure on price.

The pound strengthened a touch against the dollar to $1.30 this week from $1.28 last Friday. Against the euro, the pound has hovered around €1.15 all week.

Recycled plastics

Again this week, the UK recycling market for packaging plastics was dominated by the PRN/PERN market.

There was resistance this week to the PRN/PERN price going up so high so early in the year, as this would likely fuel higher prices later in the year as the compliance period gets closer to ending. Buyers of PRN/PERN’s don’t want to see the market overheat as that is going to cost them a lot more in compliance costs, when they are already historically high.

As a result, the price dropped by about £15 on last week and bottle grades responded by falling at the same amount.

Slightly less demand for film pushed the price of 99/1 and 98/2 LDPE down by £20 per tonne. While there was some activity from UK and European buyers, less film is heading to Asia due to the shipping situation mentioned above.

Forecast prices

LDPE 98/2446-452458-464

Recycled paper

It was a steady market for UK fibre this week, despite the challenges of shipping material to Asia.

Prices remained unchanged as there was good demand and low generation of material, and some large buyers were prepared to pay the shipping premiums to move material. This was despite predictions that another crash was on the way.

It seems exporters were taking the unusual step of booking containers when available and then talking to suppliers about filling them, rather than the other way around as normal. This helped ensure there was some liquidity in the paper and cardboard market.

But there is a lot of uncertainty out there and a crash could still happen. Even if shipping patterns return to normal by the end of April, there are fears of what coronavirus will mean for availability of cardboard and paper for recycling as people might end up buying less.

What does seem apparent is that retailers are struggling to get their products from manufacturers in China, and this looks set to mean low generation of material for a little while yet.

Forecast prices

Mixed-6- -2-6- -2

Recycled metals

Prices were relatively stable for recycled metals this week.

However, there were exceptions for some aluminium grades that saw a small drop in price of about £30 per tonne.

Ferrous grades increased by a further £5, with the same amount added to steel cans.

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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