The value of a ton of mixed paper has hit a new low, trading for less than a large latte at Starbucks. But some key curbside plastics have continued their upward pricing trends.

The national average of all curbside paper grades remains low. Sorted residential papers (PS 56) are now trading at a national average of $27 per ton as of early April. This represents a dramatic drop over the highs of $104 per ton in August 2017.

The national average of mixed paper (PS 54) is now at an all-time low of $4 per ton, down from $75 per ton in August 2017.

Corrugated containers (PS 11) continues to trade in the $95-per-ton range nationally. In July 2017, OCC was trading in the $180-per-ton range. See related story in Resource Recycling for a detailed look at how low OCC prices are affecting the industry.

The national average price of post-consumer PET beverage bottles and jars is currently 15.03 cents per pound. This is up 6 percent from last month, when it traded nationally at 14.20 cents per pound. One year ago, the national average was 11 percent lower, at 13.56 cents per pound.

Post-consumer natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE) from curbside collection programs is experiencing a continued upward trend this month. The national average price is 35.69 cents per pound, up 2 percent from this time early March, when it was trading at 34.88 cents per pound. Early January 2018, this grade was trading at 29.97 cents per pound. Similarly, the national average price of color HDPE is currently 17.75 cents per pound, up 18 percent over the early January 2018 price of 15.09 cents per pound.

Meanwhile, commingled grades remain in the doldrums. The national average price for commingled Nos. 1-7 remains at 2.38 cents per pound, while the national price for commingled Nos. 3-7 hovers around 0.0 cents per pound, with many regions dealing in negative figures.

Post-consumer film prices remain unchanged in 2018. The national average price for Grade A film is currently 11.34 cents per pound. This grade was trading 26 percent higher one year ago, when the national average was 15.31 cents per pound. Grade B film is trading at 3.84 cents per pound, while Grade C film is still trading at a low of 1.38 cents per pound.

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 [email protected] or 330-956-8911.

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