Price volatility marks 2013 for selected recyclables

Price volatility marks 2013 for selected recyclables

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

According to information in Resource Recycling’s market database, price volatility continued unabated in 2013 for recovered packaging materials.

The average price of homopolymer HDPE plastic containers, such as milk jugs, was about 36 cents per pound in the U.S. in 2013 (all data is for a truckload of bales picked up from the supplier). The market was weak at the beginning of the year, with pricing at about 28 cents per pound. The value of homopolymer bales then slowly rose to a high of approximately 39 cents per pound in the third quarter, only to drop about three cents per pound by year’s end.

Pricing for copolymer or pigmented HDPE bottles was extremely volatile. Although the average price was about 24 cents per pound, monthly price swings of as much as 10 cents per pound were recorded. The value of copolymer scrap topped out at over 29 cents per pound at the end of the first quarter, only to then slide down to approximately 21 cents per pound in the summer, followed by a rise to 28 cents in the fourth quarter.

The PET market was far less volatile, with MRF bales selling for 18 cents to 22 cents per pound in 2013. As often occurs, market pricing was linked to weather-related beverage consumption, with prices being higher when volumes were lower in the first quarter, and then slumping to the low point in May when bale supplies rose.

The average value of aluminum cans generated by material recovery facilities in 2013 was about 74 cents per pound. The price reached a high of an estimated 82 cents per pound early in the year, then fell in steps to just 70 cents per pound or so in mid-summer, only to then fluctuate between 73 cents and 69 cents per pound in the last months of the year.

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