Market graph iconSeptember is bringing some overall positive news for MRFs, with prices for recovered fiber and plastics continuing to climb higher.

The national average price for corrugated containers (PS 11) rose by $9 per ton this month, from $54 last month to $63 per ton in September. This compares with $78 per ton this time last year. The gradual rise has followed the predictions of the largest haulers and paper mill operators in North America, who have said that recycled fiber mills projects coming on-line are slowly increasing overall demand for fiber in North America.

Some of those projects, including Cascades’ recently retooled mill in Virginia and Pratt’s upcoming mill in Kentucky, are also boosting demand for mixed paper (PS 54), which continues to rise as well. This grade rose by $8 this month and is now trading for $22 per ton. This compares with $18 per ton this time last year.

Sorted residential papers (PS 56) are also up substantially, rising by $8 to around $36 per ton. This compares to $82 per ton one year ago.

Meanwhile, important curbside plastics are rising in price. In August, prices for PET, natural HDPE and color HDPE hit their lowest prices in years, squeezing plastics reclaimers.

PET beverage bottles and jars are now averaging 7.41 cents per pound, compared with 6.34 cents per pound this time last month. Some regional contracts are still yielding as high as 10.00 cents per pound. This grade is now close to the levels seen one year ago, when it was trading at 7.53 cents per pound.

Rigid polyethylene grades are also rising. The national average price of post-consumer natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE) is now at an average 23.75 cents per pound. This compares with 22.88 cents last month and 39.50 cents this time last year.

Following it, color HDPE is also stronger this month, now at an average 9.91 cents per pound. Color HDPE sold for 5.69 cents last month and 6.16 cents one year ago.

For the most part, other curbside commodities are stable this month.

The national average price for sorted, baled aluminum cans remains about 65.00 cents per pound. This nonferrous metal was 73.31 cents per pound this time last year.

Sorted, baled steel cans dropped by only $3 per ton, from $214 per ton to the current average $211 per ton. The price was $188 per ton one year ago.

The national average for polypropylene (PP) is 5.00 cents per pound, compared to 5.06 cents last month. PP was 8.31 cents one year ago.

Grade A film dropped from 15.31 to 14.75 cents per pound this month. It traded at 20.75 cents one year ago.

Grade B film is now at 6.88 cents, down from 7.13 cents last month.

Grade C film remains at a nominal 0.13 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 330-956-8911.