The pressure on the European recycling industry is growing as recycled standard thermoplastics prices continued to tumble in July and August. Recycled plastics prices are under severe pressure because of persistent weak demand caused by the economic stagnation throughout Europe and competition from the falling cost of off-spec virgin plastics and cheaper imports from Asia.
Falling virgin material prices are having a major adverse impact on converters’ use of recyclate. Sustainability considerations seem to have now taken a back seat behind economic factors, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. There is also a growing concern in the recycling industry that not all of the large quantities of imported off-spec material from Asia can be classified as meeting European standards for recyclate.
The downward price pressure facing PET remains particularly serious, In July, clear flake prices fell by €130 per metric ton, clear food-grade pellet prices were down by €90 per tonne and colured flake prices fell by €80 per tonne. Recycled high density polyethylene prices fell by €40-50 per tonne, Recycled low density PE natural film and translucent film prices fell by €90 per tonne and Recycled polypropylene prices were €70-80 per tonne lower than in the previous month.
Recycled plastics prices remain under downward pressure during the first two weeks of August. Demand remains very low but supply was more than sufficient despite recyclers curbing production.
Recycled PET once again shows the largest decline in price. Clear flake prices have fallen by €100 per tonne and clear food-grade pellet prices are down by €90 per tonne.
Prices for most other recycled plastics classes are declining at a less steep rate compared to the previous month. Recycled HDPE prices are down €20-30 per tonne compared to a reduction of €40-50 per tonne in July. Recycled LDPE natural film and translucent film pellet prices are down by €20-30 per tonne against €60-90 per tonne last month, and R-PP prices are down by €50-60 per tonne compared to a reduction of €70-80 per tonne in July.
Western Europe: post-consumer recycled polymer prices (in euros per tonne):