In November, recycled plastics price developments presented a mixed picture. R-HDPE and R-LDPE prices had edged higher in October for the first time since summer 2022. In November, however, HDPE prices remained unchanged and R-LDPE prices fell back slightly. R-PP prices dipped again in November; R-HIPS prices also edged lower. R-PET prices continued to decline last month because of lower costs, weak demand and the falling cost of virgin material.
The low level of demand which has plagued the plastics recycling industry for so long failed to show any sign of recovery in November. In addition, call-offs were further restrained as processors started to run down stocks in preparation for the year-end accounts.
There was more than sufficient material available to satisfy demand despite recyclers continuing to throttle plant run rates. The lower cost of virgin material added to the competitive pressures facing recyclers.
In December, recycled plastic price movements varied widely. R-PET prices dipped by €10-25/tonne depending on type, R-HDPE and R-HIPS prices were stable; R-LDPE prices mostly fell a tad. R-PP homopolymer prices increased slightly; R-PP copolymer prices dropped a little.
Recycled plastics faced growing competition from lower-priced virgin material and from a healthy supply of imported material in December. Demand virtually dried up in the low season and as converters worked down stocks as end-of-year approached. In response, many recyclers shut down their facilities early to begin maintenance work. Recyclers hope that processors will start to replenish stocks in January to support prices. Also, many recyclers are thought to be considering a delayed restart after the holidays to stabilise supply.
Recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET)
In November, R-PET prices were under continued downward pressure despite an increases in the cost of bottle scrap. Demand weakness persisted, there was growing competition from imports and the lower cost of virgin material. Clear food grade pellet and clear flake prices fell by a further €20-25/tonne while coloured grade prices softened very slightly.
Recyclers maintained production rates at a very low level and also reduced stock levels in preparation for the end-year accounts. Imported material added significantly to supply.
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.
Recycled high-density polyethylene (R-HDPE)
R-HDPE prices remained largely unchanged in November compared to the previous month. Supply was very limited as recyclers continued to throttle production in line with the very low levels of demand. The purchase cost of base material for recycled injection moulding material increased; the cost of base material for recycled blow moulding fell.
Recyclers managed to keep prices stable in December despite a virtual drying up of demand. Many recyclers stopped production earlier than usual in view of the limited activity.
Recycled low-density polyethylene (R-LDPE)
R-LDPE prices fell in November following a small uptick in the previous month. Natural film prices fell by €30/tonne with translucent material down by €20/tonne. Supply remained very low as recyclers throttled production in line with the low demand situation.
Recyclers were for the most part unable to keep prices stable in December amid very limited ordering activity and ample supply. Prices dipped by €10-20/tonne in case of natural film and translucent film.
Recycled polypropylene (R-PP)
R-PP homopolymer prices slipped slightly in November while copolymer prices dropped by €20/tonne. Basae material costs remained largely unchanged from the previous month. Recyclers continued to curb production in line with the subdued level of demand.
R-PP recyclers were unbale to prevent copolymer prices from falling in December because of low demand and competition from lower-priced virgin material. R-PP homopolymer prices nudged slightly higher.
Recycled high-impact polystyrene (R-HIPS)
R-HIPS prices fell by €10/tonne in November in a well-balanced market. Base material was available in sufficient volumes and at stable prices. Recyclers continued to restrict output in line with the low level of demand.
In December, R-HIPS prices were stable with no discernible pressure from standard material.