Market Update for the prime, recycled, and scrap plastics as of March 4, 2023.

Prime virgin prices are from China’s major virgin polymer websites in Renminbi RMB. The exchange rate is 1 US dollar= Chinese Yen at 6. 9043.


WTI (NYMEX) Crude oil rose to $76.68 per barrel in New York, further increased from the Asia market on renewed optimism of demand growth in China due to positive economic data.

Prime prices remained to be weak because of overproduction capacities in China; examples of these are increases from Guangdong Petrochemical and Hainan refining, slower-than-expected recovery of market demands after the Lunar year, and the shift of Covid policy did not increase in the commodity demand. The slow renewal of orders caps downstream demand. There is also a high inventory pile, restraining the potential for market upside. In the short run, there will be constant adjustments to the market, with prices stuck in a limited range due to cost support and imports from different countries. Most countries have reported increased prices for polypropylene, polyethylene, and some engineering plastics. Examples are Malaysia, Indonesia, UAE, Nigeria, Lebanon, and Jordan, with a price hike of US $ 60-70 per ton. However, the US and Europe remain high with inflation figures, and the expected interest rate increase is not seeing any respite. It is very doubtful that petrochemical can achieve the increments as there are still many uncertain elements in the economic and political environments.

The low prices of prime materials impact recycled materials of post-consumers and post-industries. Most market players have to eye on monomer prices, oil prices, demand recovery from the sluggish economy, the Renminbi, and domestic and asian recycled pellets prices. The recent China Replast conference has reported that markets have been slowing down, with prices declining from US $20-30 per ton monthly during the last few months for PET. Other recycled materials in China have been following the footsteps of prime prices. China is still the most consumed country for recycled and prime materials and also the most produced country for prime plastics and domestic recycled pellets. Southeast recyclers, therefore, have to compete with China’s prime virgin prices and domestic recycled materials prices when offering their secondary recycled materials to China.

Some scrap plastics might be getting difficult to buy as Europe, and the US scrap prices have improved from $ 25 to $ 75 per ton during the two last week. In the US, a good amount of materials increased by a couple of US cents per pound, including PET and HDPE bottles and PP-baled scraps. It is difficult for recyclers to navigate as Asia markets are still weak for their recycled pellet outlets. Still, also feedstocks are now getting difficult and expensive to purchase. During the last two weeks, plastic scraps like big bags, mixed rigid plastics, mixed color post-consumer PE film, PET, and agricultural waste plastics have been getting difficult to buy.

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