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Recycling facilities are encountering both good and bad news on the fiber-market front: OCC prices have increased substantially, but mixed paper slipped further into the negatives.

The national average for corrugated containers (PS 11) is up 28% over the last month, now trading at around $32 per ton, compared with $25 per ton in January. Still, prices for the OCC grade remain relatively low: The grade was trading at around $135 per ton three years ago. 

Mixed paper (PS 54) dropped to a new low and is now a national average price of negative $3.75 per ton, compared with highs of $88 per ton three years ago.

Sorted residential papers (PS 56) remain unchanged again this month, trading at around $10 per ton. This common grade traded for about $97 per ton three years ago. 

The national average price for aluminum cans is down marginally this month, now at 49.69 cents per pound, compared with 51.19 cents per pound last month. This compares with 56.19 cents per pound this time last year and 66.00 cents per pound three years ago.

Steel cans moved up again and is now at a national average $124 per ton, compared with an average $103 per ton last month and $167 per ton one year ago.

Moving to plastics, the national average price of PET beverage bottles and jars is currently 9.91 cents per pound, compared to 10.65 cents per pound in early January 2020. (Note: The February price is lower than it would otherwise be because of a change in Secondary Materials Pricing (SMP) Index’s methodology. The SMP Index has introduced a “Premium PET” grade that includes deposit program PET and special-sorted PET, with prices currently ranging from 16.00 cents to 20.00 cents. Moving these higher-value bales out of the “PET beverage bottles and jars” category artificially lowered the average price of PET in that category; however, the price is now more representative of curbside programs across all regions.)

The national average price of natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE) from curbside collection programs has dropped to 54.81 cents per pound, compared with 59.47 cents this time last month. This grade traded at 35.19 cents per pound one year ago.

The national average price of color HDPE dropped again this month, now trading at 8.38 cents per pound, compared with 12.53 cents per pound last month.

The national average price of polypropylene remains unchanged this month, at 5.81 cents per pound. One year ago, this grade was trading at 12.47 cents per pound.

The national average price of Grade A film is up marginally this month, from 8.44 cents per pound to its current level of 8.94 cents per pound. Grade B film is lower at 4.13 cents per pound, compared with 4.56 cents per pound this time last month. Grade C film remains unchanged at 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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