Resource Recycling News

Prices drop 40% for two key recycled plastic grades

Market graph iconPET and HDPE prices have taken a sudden crash this month, dropping by double-digit percentages. Luckily for MRFs, most everything else in the curbside mix is holding steady. 

The national average price of post-consumer PET beverage bottles and jars is down 44% this month. Bales of PET are now averaging 7.06 cents per pound, compared with 12.63 cents per pound this time last month

Some regional PET bale contracts are still yielding as high as 10.00 to 11.00 cents per pound, but the open market is yielding only 2.00 to 4.00 cents per pound. This grade was trading at 37.50 cents one year ago.

Natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE) from curbside collection programs is down 40%, now at an average 40.94 cents per pound. This compares with 68.75 cents last month and 45.5 cents this time last year.

Following natural’s downward trend, color HDPE dropped 28% this month. This grade is trading for an average 9.31 cents per pound, compared with 12.88 cents last month and 22.03 cents one year ago.

PET, natural HDPE and color HDPE have all been dropping since May, when they hit recent highs. But this month’s decline was much steeper than the May-to-June drop.  

Pretty much everything else in the curbside mix is holding steady this month, providing some stability for MRFs’ commodity sales revenue streams.

That being said, pricing lags last year significantly, especially on the fiber side of the equation.

The national average price for corrugated containers (PS 11) is up marginally, now at an average of $49 per ton. That’s $1 more than last month. However, the current price compares with $135 per ton this time last year.

Likewise, mixed paper (PS 54) remains steady at about $14 per ton. This compares with $70 per ton this time last year. 

Sorted residential papers (PS 56) also remain flat this month, at around $25 per ton. This compares with $107 per ton one year ago. 

Lastly for fiber, sorted office papers (PS 37) are down again, from $158 in June to $144 per ton this month. This compares with an average $230 one year ago.

The metals are also largely unchanged. The national average price for aluminum cans remains firm at 66.25 cents per pound. It was 74.38 cents per pound this time last year.

Sorted, baled steel cans remain steady at a current average of $226 per ton. The price was $193 per ton one year ago.

Finally, other plastics have been stronger going into summer. Polypropylene (PP) is now trading at 7.56 cents per pound, compared to 7.69 cents last month. PP was 24.94 cents one year ago.

Grade A film remains steady at 17.13 cents per pound. It traded at 22.56 cents one year ago. 

Grade B film is also steady at 7.13 cents, compared to 8.19 cents 12 months ago. 

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 or call 330-956-8911.

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