Post-Consumer Recycling Market Trends Continue to Vary in 2015

Post-Consumer Recycling Market Trends Continue to Vary in 2015

Recent months have brought additional movement to pricing of post-consumer natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE), densified aluminum cans and post-consumer old corrugated paper.

Post-Consumer Natural HDPE Prices Rise

During the last four months, the national average price of HDPE from curbside collection programs has risen 27 percent.

In February 2014 the national average trading price was at a low of 24.3 cents per pound, down 28 percent from its December 2014 level of 31.1 cents per pound (see graph).

This low trading price is also in stark contrast to the more than double highs of 56 cents per pound during the summer of 2014.

It is interesting to note that the national average price for this grade was in the 33 cents per pound range two years ago, in May 2013.

These prices are as reported on the Secondary Materials Pricing (SMP) Index. This pricing represents what is being paid for post-consumer recyclable plastic materials in a sorted, baled format, picked up at most major recycling centers.

Aluminum Cans Start Downward Trend

One year ago, the national high price of densified aluminum cans was in the 78-80 cents per pound range.

In the new year, in particular since early March 2015, the price has gradually dropped 22 percent, now reaching an average low of 65 cents per pound (see graph).

Historically, this post-consumer grade trades in the mid-to-high 70 cents per pound. By comparison, the national average price was 73 cents per pound in May 2013, and 78 cents per pound in May 2014.

These prices are as reported on the Secondary Materials Pricing (SMP) Index. This pricing represents what is being paid for post-consumer recyclable plastic materials in a sorted, baled format, picked up at most major recycling centers.

Post-Consumer Corrugated (PS-11) Remains Steady in 2015

Since February 2015, the national average price for post-consumer old corrugated paper (OCC, PS-11) continues to remain level, at $81 per ton.

One year ago, the #11 PSI (Paper Stock Industries) average trading price was 43 percent higher, in the $116 per ton range, gradually dropping to $103 per ton in August 2014, then $93 per ton in November 2014, and $81 per ton in February 2015 (see graph).

By comparison, the average price of recovered #8 News has only dropped 6 percent during the past year, from $51 per ton in May 2014, to the current $48 per ton.

These published prices are for mill-size bales, FOB (freight on board) dealers’ plants, as reported on the Secondary Fiber Pricing (SFP) Index.

Robert Boulanger is currently president of Recycling Markets Ltd., and director of the Commodity Pricing division. He has extensive experience in the operation and management of recycling plants, and is a long time publisher in the recycling sector.

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