Market graph iconCurbside high-density polyethylene scrap prices continue to play the limbo game, with each month bringing even lower prices than the last.

The national average price of post-consumer natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE) from curbside collection programs plummeted again this month and is now at 22.88 cents per pound. This compares with 40.94 cents last month and 45.5 cents this time last year.

Color HDPE also dropped this month. This grade is now averaging 5.69 cents per pound, compared with 9.31 cents last month and 11.88 cents one year ago.

Both natural and color HDPE have been falling since May, when they were nearly 75 cents and 16 cents, respectively. Waste Management (WM) recently reported that rapidly falling prices for plastic bales in the May-to-July time frame led executives to recalculate downward their forecast for average commodity prices in 2023. 

For MRFs, there is some good news, however. August is bringing another increase in OCC values. The national average price for corrugated containers (PS 11) is up by $5 per ton this month, from $49 last month to $54 per ton. This compares with $114 per ton this time last year. After they started tanking last summer, OCC prices bottomed out around the new year, hitting about $30 per ton. Since then, they’ve steadily climbed each month. 

Other commodities haven’t experienced major price swings, with a few exceptions. 

One of those exceptions is polypropylene (PP), which dropped from 7.56 cents per pound in July to 5.06 cents per pound this month. PP was 16.13 cents one year ago.

PET beverage bottles and jars are down marginally this month, now averaging 6.34 cents per pound, compared to 7.06 cents per pound this time last month. Some regional contracts are still yielding as high as 10.00 cents per pound, with the open market yielding only 2.00 cents to 4.00 cents per pound. This grade was trading at 10.31 cents one year ago.

Grade A film prices have dropped from 17.13 cents to 15.31 cents per pound. It traded at 22.69 cents one year ago. 

Grade B film is steady at 7.13 cents. It was 8.31 cents 12 months ago. 

Finally for films, Grade C film remains at a nominal 0.19 cents per pound.

For other fiber grades, sorted residential papers (PS 56) are up a few dollars and are now trading for about $28 per ton. This compares with $99 per ton one year ago. 

Mixed paper (PS 54) is steady, still at around $14 per ton. This compares with $44 per ton this time last year. 

Sorted office papers (PS 37) are down again, this time by $12 per ton. The price dropped from $144 per ton in July to $136 per ton this month. This compares with an average $240 per ton one year ago.

Sorted, baled aluminum cans are still selling for about 66.00 cents per pound. The price was 74.63 cents per pound this time last year.

Lastly, steel cans dropped $12 per ton, from $226 per ton last month to the current average $214 per ton. The price was $188 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 You can also contact Christina at [email protected] or call 330-956-8911.