The recycled PET business was slow in the last two months of 2009, but recyclers say that was not unexpected or even very unusual.

The recycled PET business was slow in the last two months of 2009, but recyclers say that was not unexpected or even very unusual. Usually in the summer there is more PET material available in the marketplace, but there were many economic factors that depressed the market this summer, so prices were especially soft. However, the last few months have seen prices stabilize, and they are expected to remain stable at least through this quarter.

RECYCLED PET PRICES IN JANUARY
(Post-Consumer Bottles , Clean)

 Pellets ¢/lb

Flake ¢/lb

Clear55-6547-53
Green50-5738-43

Manufacturers are very sensitive about building raw-material inventories in weak and uncertain markets, recyclers say. Processors ran down their material inventories because their initial projections for 2010 were bleak. “Now, we are starting to see more bullish predictions in some markets and have already see a bump up in demand in January,” said one recycler. Markets that are reportedly very strong today for RPET are sheet, film, bottles, and fiber.

The bump up in demand is not for finished goods, but for baled raw material. One recycler said bales are selling for 19¢ to 21¢/lb. Remaining “green” is still an issue for many companies. That’s obviously good news for recyclers. Companies are not pulling back from their commitments to reducing carbon footprints, at least not yet. “The push and shove comes when you have reduced virgin resin prices competing with post-consumer prices. We haven’t hit that yet, but we are fast approaching the situation where companies will have to ‘put your money where your mouth is.’ If you want to be green you are going to have to pay for it,” another recycler said.

A lot of new ventures are starting up and they will be taking a lot of raw materials out of the waste stream, another recycler said. “That usually means escalating prices. However, we’ll see what happens with some of these newcomers when they are forced to pay more for recycle. Usually they just say no!”