In May, the Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) reported that the average value of a blended ton of recyclables in the first quarter of 2022 was $138.62, down 15% from the fourth quarter of 2021. That price represents the blended value for a ton of recyclables from Northeast U.S. MRFs surveyed by NERC, and the number takes into account the negative value of residuals. The Q1 2022 average is up 57% from the first quarter of 2021, but it’s the second consecutive quarter-over-quarter decline. As the chart below indicates, from the start of the pandemic until the end of last year, the value of a blended ton increased fairly steadily. That phenomenon can be attributed to a number of different factors: a rise in material demand tied to e-commerce growth and hygiene concerns; supply chain disruptions constricting movement of virgin materials; brand goals around boosting the use of recycled content; and a generally strong economy overall. As we move into 2022 (and a new period of economic uncertainty), the trajectory of commodity pricing will be a critical trend for all municipal recycling stakeholders.
This article appeared in the June 2022 issue of Resource Recycling. Subscribe today for access to all print content.