Resource Recycling News

New year brings stable prices for many recyclables

Prices for post-consumer papers and plastics have shown stability over the past month, but cash fetched for aluminum has continued to slide.

The national average for corrugated containers (PS 11) remains in the $70.00-per-ton range, compared with $105.00 per ton one year ago. Mixed paper (PS 54) is still trading at a nominal average low of $4.69 per ton. That’s down from $32.00 per ton one year ago. Sorted residential papers (PS 56) continues unchanged over the past month, at $31.00 per ton. The grade’s price was $58.00 per ton in January 2018.

The national average price for baled aluminum cans is now down to about 60.19 cents per pound. This represents a significant drop from the high of 70.19 cents per pound one year ago (see related story about low scrap aluminum prices). In December, aluminum cans were trading in the 66.00-cents-per-pound range.

The national average price of post-consumer PET beverage bottles and jars is currently trading at 15.11 cents per pound. One month ago, this grade was trading comparably at 15.03 cents per pound. One year ago, PET was trading at 13.76 cents per pound. By comparison, the national average peaked at 17.11 cents per pound in June 2018.

The price of natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE) from curbside collection programs remains constant. The current national average price is 38.88 cents per pound, compared to 38.69 cents this time last month. With the exception of the West Coast and Pacific regions, where the average remains in the 33.00-cents-per-pound range, the national average in all other regions continues in the 42.00-cents-per-pound range. This represents a significant increase over one year ago, when the national average for this grade was 29.97 cents per pound. The national average price of color HDPE went up from 15.09 cents per pound in early January 2018 to the current average of 16.41 cents per pound.

The national average price of post-consumer PP is currently 12.50 cents per pound, up from 8.38 cents per pound one year ago.

The national average price of all post-consumer film grades remains low compared to one year ago. Grade A film is trading at 8.81 cents per pound, compared with 11.31 cents per pound one year ago. Grade B film is trading at 2.47 cents per pound, compared with 4.06 cents per pound one year ago. Grade C film remains at 1.44 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 or 330-956-8911.

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