In December, recycled plastic price movements varied widely. R-PET prices dipped by €10-20/tonne, R-HDPE, R-LDPE and R-HIPS prices were mostly stable. R-PP homopolymer prices increased slightly; R-PP copolymer prices fell by €10/tonne.
Recycled plastics faced growing competition from lower-priced virgin material and from a healthy supply of imported material in December. Demand virtually dried up as converters worked down stocks as end-of-year approached. In response, many recyclers shut down their facilities early to begin maintenance work.
Recycled plastics prices began the new year on a more positive note. The long slump in R-PET prices finally came to an end in January as prices increased for the first time since July 2022. R-PET prices increased by €20-25/tonne as a result of an upturn in demand as processors topped up their inventories. There were also small price increases for R-PP and R-HIPS.
R-LDPE natural film and translucent film and R-HDPE blow moulding pellet prices were mostly stable. R-LDPE black extrusion pellets and R-HDPE black injection moulding pellets prices softened slightly.
The stronger volume calls from processors has raised hopes that the demand slump that has hampered the recycling market for so long may be coming to an end. The European Union’s target for recycled content by 2025 is drawing closer and is likely to generate growing demand for recyclate over the coming year. As demand rises recyclers are less likely to face resistance to planned price increases from processors than in the recent past. .
Recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET)
R-PET prices fell again in December as a result of competition from the falling cost of virgin polymer, a healthy volume of imported material, as well as very weak demand. Clear food-grade pellet prices fell by €20-25/tonne with clear flake and coloured flake prices down by €10/tonne. Margins came under further pressure from the rising cost of bottle scrap.
R-PET prices began the new year on a more positive note with prices rising for the first time in many months. Prices increased by €15-20/tonne despite the stable cost of bottle scrap. Demand picked up in January as processors began to replenish stocks, although sales overall remain below what would normally be expected at the beginning of the year. Material availability was low as recyclers continued to operate their plants at low run rates. Supply was however lifted by a healthy inflow of imported material.
Recycled high-density polyethylene (R-HDPE)
Recyclers managed to keep prices stable in December despite a virtual drying up of demand and competition from the lower cost of virgin material. Many recyclers stopped production earlier than usual in view of the limited buying activity.
In January, R-HDPE blow moulding prices remained stable while injection moulding prices fell by €5/tonne. Demand picked up at the start of the new year as processors began to restock. However, volume calls were still lower than would normally be expected for the start of a new year. Recyclers kept a lid on plant operating rates to avoid a build-up of excess supply.
Recycled low-density polyethylene (R-LDPE)
Recyclers were for the most part unable to keep prices stable in December amid very limited ordering activity and ample supply. There was also price pressure from the falling cost of virgin material. R-LDPE natural film and translucent film prices dipped by €10-20/tonne; black extrusion pellet prices remained stable.
R-LDPE prices barely moved in January thanks mainly to an improvement in demand as processors began stock replenishment. While demand has picked up, sales overall remained less than would be expected for the fist month of the year. Supply was kept in check as recyclers continued to operate their plants at low run rates.
Recycled polypropylene (R-PP)
R-PP recyclers were unable to prevent copolymer prices from falling by €10/tonne in December because of low demand and competition from special offers on lower-priced virgin material. R-PP homopolymer prices nudged slightly higher.
In January, R-PP recyclers were able to raise prices by €10-15/tonne because of stronger stock replenishment by processors. Recyclers continued to maintain tight production controls to facilitate a good balance between demand and supply.
Recycled high-impact polystyrene (R-HIPS)
In December, R-HIPS prices were stable with no discernible pressure from standard material. Many recyclers shut down their plants early to begin maintenance work. Demand was very low; December marks the low point of the construction season.
R-HIPS recyclers were able to raise prices by €10/tonne at the start of the new year as stock replenishment activity by processors was better than expected. Market balance was maintained as recyclers continued to keep a lid on plant run rates.
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