|RECYCLED RESIN PRICES|
|PET Bottles (Clean)|
Virgin resin prices started to soften at the end of 2005, and recycled resin prices have followed suit. Most reprocessors believe the big price hikes of the last couple of years have probably ended, but prices still are likely to rebound by April, since demand for many materials increases in the spring and summer.
Recycled PET prices have fallen in some markets by as much as 10¢/lb. Post-consumer bale prices have softened, and virgin prices are down because domestic resin suppliers are trying to reduce inventories, says one reprocessor. However, virgin PET prices are expected to go back up pretty quickly. Right now, there’s more supply than demand because of a glut of imported virgin material. “When we start hitting the spring and summer volume, virgin prices will start strengthening again,” says one recycler.
The Chinese New Year at the end of January played a role in the temporary softening because Chinese importers of R-PET are inactive during the holiday period. Says one market observer, “The Chinese are slowly coming back. Bale prices on the West Coast have gone up since Jan. 1. But the curbside equivalent on the East Coast has gone down since Jan. 1, and the gap has widened. That’s a sign that the Chinese are back in the market.”
“By April, I expect the recycled market to be in better shape,” another source says. Most sources expect R-PET prices to be generally stable this year.
Recycled HDPE prices are down, but not dramatically. The market already seems to have plateaued after a reduction of 3.5¢/lb at year’s end. “Still, high oil and natural gas costs will probably keep prices relatively high throughout the winter, at least,” one reprocessor says.
Winter demand is seasonally lower, but this year, most reprocessors are said to be sold out or close to it.
Though virgin polypropylene prices have dropped, recycled resin seems to be holding its own. One reprocessor says his prices have remained stable since the last quarter, while another says his prices actually climbed 2¢/lb. Normally, the first half of the year is stronger than the second half of the year.