For several months, curbside plastic bale prices have been on a steady upward trend. The month of March is bringing much of the same.
Prices for PET, natural HDPE, color HDPE and PP have increased by 6%, 10%, 45% and 51%, respectively, over the past month. The increases could help offset some amount of the pain MRFs are experiencing from down fiber markets.
The national average price of post-consumer PET beverage bottles and jars is currently 13.94 cents per pound, compared with 13.16 cents per pound this time last month. Some regions are now trading as high as 17.00 cents per pound. This key curbside plastic has been rising since September 2022, when it was 7.53 cents per pound. Three months ago, on December 10, PET was trading 30% lower, at an average 10.75 cents. This grade was trading at 23.42 cents one year ago.
The national average for natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE) is up 10%, now at an average of 68.22 cents per pound. This compares to 62.03 cents last month and 54.56 cents this time last year. Similarly to PET, natural HDPE has been rising since September, when it was 39.50 cents a pound.
The national average price of color HDPE is up 45% this month, at an average of 13.44 cents per pound. That compares with 9.27 cents last month and 19.50 cents one year ago. As is the case with PET and natural HDPE, color HDPE has been rising since September, when it was 6.16 cents per pound.
Polypropylene (PP) is also up dramatically, now trading at 8.13 cents per pound, compared with 5.38 cents last month. That’s a rise of 51%. Unlike the other scrap plastic container grades, PP had been exactly flat since last fall, with this month bringing its first increase in about a year. One year ago, in March 2022, PP was trading for 29.44 cents per pound.
Even the high- and mid-grade films, which don’t tend to see dramatic price swings, are rising.
The national average price of Grade A film is now 16.94 cents per pound, compared with 15.63 cents last month. It was 20.50 cents one year ago.
Grade B film is now 7.94 cents, compared with 6.94 cents last month.
Lastly for plastics, Grade C film remains at a low 0.5 cents per pound.
In contrast to plastics, most other curbside commodities are flat, although mixed paper ticked upward slightly.
Corrugated containers (PS 11) remain low, at an average of $32 per ton. This compares with $134 per ton this time last year.The price for sorted residential papers (PS 56) is level, around $25 per ton. This compares with $100 per ton one year ago.
Mixed paper (PS 54) is now at nearly $5 per ton, up from $1 per ton last month. This compares with $71 per ton this time last year.
Lastly for fibers, sorted office papers (PS 37) are down from $216 to 204 per ton. This compares to an average of $214 one year ago.
Prices for baled aluminum cans remain steady at 75.00 cents per pound. This material was trading at nearly 124 cents per pound this time last year.
Finally, steel cans are up $16 per ton, from $176 last month to a current average of $192 per ton. The price was $236 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 [email protected] or call 330-956-8911.