Market graph iconJune has brought generally bad news for MRFs, with prices for curbside plastics and metals tanking this month. The only real bright spots are the slow but continuing climbs in OCC and mixed paper prices.

The national average price of post-consumer PET beverage bottles and jars is down 11% this month. The price is now averaging 12.63 cents per pound, compared with 14.20 cents per pound this time last month. Some regions are still trading as high as 14 cents to 16 cents per pound. This grade was trading at 37.50 cents one year ago.

Polyethylene prices are also down. The national average for natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE) is 68.75 cents per pound, down from 74.59 cents last month. A year ago, the value sat at 56.19 cents.

Color HDPE fell harder. The price for this grade dropped 20% this month and is now averaging 12.88 cents per pound. That compares with 16.09 cents last month and 29.28 cents one year ago.

The national average price for polypropylene (PP) dropped 33% this month. This grade is now trading at 7.69 cents per pound, compared with 10.25 cents last month. PP was 34.13 cents one year ago.

The markets have also beaten up prices for curbside metals this month. Baled aluminum cans are down 7%, now at 66.25 cents, compared to 71.56 cents last month. Used beverage cans were trading for 88.75 cents per pound this time last year.

Sorted, baled steel cans also dropped 7%. They’re now trading for an average of $226 per ton. The price was $244 per ton last month and $222 per ton one year ago.

There was a little good news for MRFs as the calendar rolled over into summer. 

The national average price for corrugated containers (PS 11) is up another $5 per ton, now at an average $48 per ton. This compares with $129 per ton this time last year. OCC prices collapsed last summer and fall, but over the past six months, they have been on a slow and steady upward trend. 

Following OCC, mixed paper prices have increased slightly this month, as well. Mixed paper (PS 54) is now trading for $14 per ton, up from $11 last month. Today’s price compares with $70 per ton this time last year. 

But even in fibers, there was a price drop. Sorted office papers (PS 37) dropped from $178 last month to $158 per ton this month. This compares to an average of $220 one year ago.

Finally, other commodity grades haven’t changed much this month. 

Sorted residential papers (PS 56) remain firm at around $25 per ton. This compares with $105 per ton one year ago. 

The national average for Grade A film remains steady at 17.81 cents per pound. It traded at 22.94 cents one year ago. 

Grade B film is also steady at 7.50 cents. A year ago, it was 8.19 cents. 

Grade C film remains at a nominal 0.19 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 You can also contact Christina Boulanger-Bosley at [email protected] or call 330-956-8911.