Domestic markets for a number of secondary plastics remain strong, while export markets have experienced further softening this spring.
A material recovery facility (MRF) operator based in the Midwest says domestic demand for HDPE (high-density polyethylene) and PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is strong.
“Also in demand is LDPE (low-density polyethylene) 95/5A Grade film,” he says.
However, he predicts a softer market for PET as the summer progresses largely because of a softening demand from buyers for overseas consumers. “The increased supply and softening export demand for PET will likely lead to lower prices for recovered PET during the summer months,” the MRF operator says. He adds that he would not be surprised to see the price of PET decline by as much as 5 cents to 10 cents per pound by the end of June.
“Exporters are buying loads to ship to China and Hong Kong, but an increase in tariffs along with weak demand for PET fiber in China have recently led to some major softening in the export market,” he says. “PET and LDPE film seem to be the two grades being hit the hardest right now.”
Generation of post-consumer PET appears to have received a boost from the warmer spring and summer weather. “We are seeing more PET coming in with the curbside stream as consumption of soft drinks, bottled water, etc., increase,” the MRF operator says.
“Post-industrial scrap generation seems to be holding steady,” he adds. A plastics reprocessor based in the Southeast says she finds that generation of post-industrial material remains steady. This is matched by healthy demand for many grades of recycled plastics.
“Demand seems high for most resin types, despite the market pricing fluctuations,” she says, adding that her company is getting many calls from consumers looking for commodity-grade plastics.
While supply and demand for recycled plastics appears to be healthy, trucking availability, however, is less so. “Produce season in the Southeast seems to have tightened up trucking availability more than usual,” the reprocessor says. “Fewer companies are working this region and there doesn’t seem to be enough equipment to go around.”
A lack of available equipment also appears to be affecting overseas shipments out of the Midwest. “Containers continue to be tight in the Chicago region,” the MRF operator says.
“Forty-five-foot high cubes are the hardest to find as of right now,” he continues. “We can get 40-foot high cubes when we need them, but making weight on the smaller containers is an issue.”
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