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The global economy has recovered more quickly than expected from last year’s slowdown. The plastics recycling industry can look back on a very strong first half to 2021 and expectations are that heavy demand for recycled plastics will continue for the remainder of the year. Recyclers are very optimistic despite a number of issues, such as a lack of input material and problems in the transportation sector.

The European market for recycled LDPE continues to be strong. In contrast with expectations in June, demand is still high and the forecast for August remains positive. The price of natural LDPE regranulate is around Euro 1350 per tonne while for black the price is approximately Euro 700. Very high demand in Europe for HDPE regranulate has pushed prices higher, with end users paying up to Euro 1450 per tonne for natural and around Euro 1150 for black. However, recyclers are still struggling with regard to availability of input material. Post-consumer mixed bales were selling a few months ago at Euro 500 per tonne but, over recent weeks, recyclers have been paying Euro 600.

The European recycled PP market is very strong and higher prices have been seen over the last three months. Demand for July and August delivery has continued to support prices for both natural and black pellets, which are around Euro 1490 and Euro 1150 per tonne, respectively. Input material is still limited and the output of pellets from recycling plants is very tight, especially for white, transparent and natural.

Container shipping is still a problem owing to the recovery of the global economy. There has been huge demand since the second half of last year, especially from the USA, and this boom is still not abating. This has led, and is continuing to lead, to a growing discrepancy between the number of incoming ships and the unloading/loading capacities of the ports and the entire logistics system in the hinterland. Effects include delays and an extreme shortage of containers.