Resource Recycling News

Higher plastic values alleviate some sting from fiber markets

Market graph iconPrices for fiber bales are still searching for rock bottom this fall, with OCC down by about 25% over the past month. PET and HDPE bales are showing notable price increases, however.

The national average price for corrugated containers (PS 11) dropped $10 per ton, from an average $40 per ton last month to a current average of $30 per ton. This compares with $160 per ton this time last year. 

OCC prices have been plummeting since July, leading major garbage and recycling companies to report drastically lower recycling revenues during the third quarter. Still, some MRF operators seem to be faring better during this downturn than past ones because they’ve made contractual changes and technology upgrades in recent years. 

Mixed paper (PS 54) remains in minus territory, at negative $1.50 per ton. Last month, mixed paper was trading for about negative $1.00. This grade was about $90 per ton this time last year.

Sorted residential papers (PS 56) are down again, from $35 to $22 per ton. This compares with $106 per ton one year ago.  

Lastly in fibers, sorted office papers (PS 37) dropped by $2 per ton and are now trading for about $239 per ton, compared with an average $165 one year ago.

Plastics prices are showing notable increases this month, after they, too, dropped over the summer.

The national average price of PET beverage bottles and jars is up again this month. PET bales are now selling for an average 10.13 cents per pound, compared with 8.50 cents per pound this time last month, or an increase of about 19%. PET was trading at 19.34 cents one year ago.

Natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE) from curbside collection programs is up by 32% this month. Natural HDPE is now averaging 59.03 cents per pound, compared with 44.56 cents last month. The price was 76.31 cents this time last year.

Color HDPE is following natural higher in November. Color HDPE is now trading at 9.00 cents per pound, compared with 6.41 cents this time last month, or an increase of 40%. It averaged 39.81 cents one year ago.

The national average price of polypropylene (PP) is unchanged, trading at 5.38 cents per pound. PP was 23.25 cents one year ago.

The national average price of Grade A film is down again, now at 17.81 cents per pound, compared with 19.50 last month and 20.75 cents one year ago.

Grade B film is still 6.94 cents.

Grade C film dropped from 0.88 cents last month to 0.50 cents per pound.

For curbside metals, the prices have fallen slightly. The national average for baled aluminum cans dropped marginally. Used beverage cans (UBCs) are now at 65.00 cents per pound, compared to 67.75 cents last month. This material was trading at an average 77.88 cents per pound this time last year.

Steel cans also dropped, to an average $155 per ton. Last month, steel cans were selling for $188 per ton. The price was $270 per ton one year ago.

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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