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Market report - plastics

The markets for the plastic fractions of PET, natural HDPE and mixed bottles this month have once again remained stable in price, with little fluctuations seen.

The headlines this month include:

  • Mixed bottles are typically in the price range of £130 per tonne for high and £50 per tonne for lower quality - this has remained the same with no significant changes seen in the Chinese ‘Green Fence’ policy
  • Clear PET bottles have remained stable, with average prices being £280 per tonne although prices may soften due to high levels of feedstock available in coming months
  • Natural HDPE bottles also remain unaffected by the markets, with average prices around £360 per tonne

The restrictions in China are still an ongoing issue for the UK plastics market. There continues to be large quantities of non-bottle rigids and lower quality plastics in the UK market as the Chinese continue to restrict imports of mixed grade plastics.

The packaging recycling data for the third quarter is highly anticipated. Will the momentum of Q2 be maintained and keep us on track for achieving 2013 plastic packaging recycling targets? Or will it show a downturn which will inevitably create a final quarter volatility in PRNs and once again lead to questions on the validity of the longer term recycling targets to 2017?

In previous articles in MRW, we have raised the issue of consistent communications to encourage recycling. At the recent Recoup conference, Lord de Mauley announced that Defra would be adding their support and financial backing to Recoup’s ‘Plastic Matters’ initiative, and that it would be “a significant step to help reduce waste, achieve the ambitious plastic packaging recycling targets to 2017, and keep valuable plastic resources from ending up in landfill”.

The initiative will develop plastic recycling communications tools and guidance to provide support to local authorities to increase the collection of plastic packaging for recycling, and deliver more consistency of information. By providing clear messages and minimising confusion, this will help consumers to take the right actions and ultimately lead to more plastic being recycled.

Together with Defra, the founding signatories of this initiative include Marks & Spencer, Kent Resource Partnership, Unilever, WRAP, Coca Cola Entreprises, Nestle Waters, RPC, Veolia, Closed Loop Recycling and Valpak.   Both the minister and Recoup called for more organisations to come forward and support this worthwhile initiative.

Replast 2013 logo

MRW is the media partner for Replast 2013 on 6 November

The recent Recoup Plastics Recycling conference in Peterborough was attended by more than 200 delegates who took the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences, and to learn more about current trends in plastic recycling from leading industry speakers.

Recoup launched two flagship documents, the ‘2013 UK Household Plastics Packaging Collection Survey’; and an updated version of ‘Recyclability By Design’ which is free to download from the new Recoup website from (

Other key points of the day included a debate over the exclusion of biodegradable bags from the recently-announced carrier bag tax. The 5p per bag charge, which will only apply to supermarkets and larger stores, will begin after the 2015 election, with the proceeds going to charities.

Stuart Foster, chief executive, Recoup

Comment: Ian Andrews, Senior Market Operator. The Environment Exchange -

In mid-summer, the Q2 supply figures provided some positive news. With talk of slowing exports into China it was comforting to see supply grow throughout  the period to report 165k against a quarterly demand of 174k. Since then, market prices have continued their upward trend.  Large buyers have continued to enter the market at the higher end of the price spreads looking to close 2013 positions early in order to pull transitional tonnage options forward into 2014 when it is expected the target increase will provide equally challenging conditions.  With Q3 supply figures due within days, it is hoped that these will provide more positive news on supply. But as market sentiment has provided the backdrop for increasing prices rather than decisions being made from analysis of the facts and figures, it may be too early to predict price falls even if strong supply is reported.

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