In May, all grades of recycled plastics sold in Europe saw price increases as a result of rising demand and limited supply. Material availability continues to be a major issue facing the sector. Indeed, Plastics Recyclers Europe has recently stated that "a lack of sorted plastics is undermining the businesses of European recyclate producers and the shortage is negatively impacting the operations of plastics recyclers across Europe."
Recycled PET prices registered triple-digit price increases on continued strong sales. However, given such high recycled PET prices, some converters whose customers do not insist on using recycled material switched to virgin PET where prices had started to fall.
Recyclers of recycled high density polyethylene pushed through price increases of €40-50 per metric ton, recycled low density PE grades posted price hikes of €30-35/tonne and recycled polypropylene prices increased by €35-40/tonne. Recycled high impact polystyrene saw soaring demands due to sky-high standard HIPS prices, and recyclers were able to raise prices by €50/tonne.
There was sufficient material across most recycled plastics classes and types in May to fully meet demand from regular customers, although it was harder to find additional volumes required to serve new customers.
Demand was robust across all sectors, except for R-PET, where sales dwindled. The construction sector showed a significant increase in demand compared to previous months and the consumer goods sector was also very lively. The automotive sector has, however, not as yet awakened from the doldrums.
In June, recycled plastics prices are rising across the board, with the exception of R-PP homopolymer black. R-PET prices are rising at the fastest rate with triple-digit gains. Also showing significant gains are R-HIPS, up €70/tonne, R-LDPE natural film, up €60/tonne, and R-PP copolymers, also up by €60/tonne.
In May, recycled PET prices continued on a strong upward trajectory amid a better-balanced market. Demand has however eased significantly as a result of the very high prices and the reduction in standard PET material. Meanwhile, supply of bottle scrap has improved with the start of the bottle making season and as more bottles are therefore being recovered. A higher volume of imported material was also evident.
PET recyclers were largely able to pass through their target price plans without much resistance in May. Clear food grade pellets and clear flake prices increased by €100/tonne compared to the previous month. Colored flake was in high demand and prices broke through the €1000/tonne barrier for the first time.
In June, PET prices are rising by triple-digit rates as strong demand meets limited availability.
Recycled low density polyethylene
In May, higher scrap costs and rising energy prices led to a further increase in recycled LDPE prices. Natural film, translucent film pellets and black extrusion pellets posted price increases of between €30-35/tonne.
There was sufficient material to meet demand from existing customers but new customers often struggled to obtain material at short notice. Overall, demand continued at a solid level.
In June, recycled LDPE prices are rising further due to higher standard material prices and strong demand for recyclate from brand owners.
Recycled high density polyethylene
In May, recycled HDPE prices increased by €40-50/tonne with recyclers able to push through gains without much resistance from buyers due largely to a widening price gap with standard HDPE material and strong sales.
There was sufficient material available to serve regular customers although high quality grades were in shorter supply and more expensive.
High demand from the consumer gods sector and rising costs are supporting a further price increase in June.
Recycled PP prices increased between €35-40/tonne during May in a fairly balanced market. Overall, demand was very solid, especially given material shortages and the high primary PP prices. The automotive sector, however, continued to disappoint. Most regular customers were able to secure the material they wanted, but new customers generally had to wait.
This month, copolymer grade prices are rising but homopolymer prices have slipped slightly.
Recycled high-impact polystyrene
Recyclers easily passed through price rises in May as a result of soaring sales. The high cost and short supply of virgin HIPS led to an influx of demand for recycled HIPS from converters. Base material availability was readily available for existing customers.
In June, strong demand and the high cost of virgin material is leading to an increase of around €70/tonne in R-HIPS prices.