Plastics Recycling Update

Prices for scrap plastics continue to collapse

Plastics Recycling MarketsThe commodities market downturn continues this month, with plummeting prices for bales of PET, HDPE and PP.

The national average price of PET beverage bottles and jars dropped again this month, by 27%. The price is now averaging 7.53 cents per pound, compared with 10.31 cents per pound this time last month. Some regions are still trading as high as 10.00 cents per pound, with most offering as low as 6.00 cents. PET was trading at 25.31 cents one year ago.

By the standards of recent history, the PET price is bad. Data from shows that, over the past four years, the price has averaged 15.70 cents per pound. That means the current price is less than half the four-year average price. 

The national average price of natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE) is also down. The price is now around 39.50 cents per pound, compared with 45.50 cents last month, or a drop of about 13%. The price was 108.44 cents this time last year, when it reached a record high. 

The current price is notably below the last-four-years average of 53.53 cents per pound. 

Color HDPE has fallen even more dramatically and is now trading at 6.16 cents per pound. It was 11.88 cents this time last month, meaning it has fallen by 48% in just a month. Color HDPE averaged 58 cents one year ago. 

The latest numbers aren’t good by historical standards either. Over the past four years, bales of color HDPE have averaged 20.25 cents per pound, over three times the current price. 

On a percentage basis, the biggest fall in plastics pricing occurred with polypropylene (PP), which is down a whopping 62%. This grade is now trading for about 6.16 cents per pound, down from 16.13 cents last month. PP was 32.91 cents one year ago.

Over the past three years, the PP bale price has averaged 17.85 cents per pound, or nearly three times the current value. 

Lastly, films have also seen notable price drops. 

The national average price of Grade A film is now 20.75 cents per pound, compared with 22.69 last month and 20.38 cents one year ago. 

Grade B film is 7.00 cents, compared with 8.31 last month. 

Grade C film is now averaging 0.94 cents per pound, down from 1.13 cents last month.

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

For a free trial to SMP’s Online Post-Consumer Pricing Index, visit the Recycling Markets website. You can also contact Christina Boulanger-Bosley at or 330-956-8911.


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