Curious about which plastics demand higher prices? As in any industry, markets for different products fluctuate, and plastic scrap is no different. Here are the latest results based on grade.

The global recycled plastics market was valued at 40.26 billion USD in 2018, and it’s anticipated to reach 66.74 billion USD by 2026. This growth is a result of heightened demand, thanks to both environmental awareness on the part of consumers, and legislation (stateside and around the world) calling for repurposing non-biodegradable plastic scrap and waste into useful products.

Here, we take a look at where current demand stands (as of September 2019 market analysis) for each of the primary plastic grades.

Top Performers

PP (polypropylene)
Used for: Consumer products packaging, ropes, carpets, upholstery, clothing

The market for scrap and reprocessed PP is currently healthy and strong, seeing aggressive selling in both price and volume.

PET (polyethylene terephthalate)
Used for: soda and water bottles, food containers, cosmetics containers, household cleaner containers

PET constitutes the majority of the market share (approximately 33.9%) and is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 5.5%. Everything from sheet-grade to engineering grades like nylon and polycarbonate are seeing a resurgence in demand.

Declining Performers

HDPE (high-density polyethylene) and LDPE (low-density polyethylene)
HDPE is used for: grocery store bags, milk jugs, detergent containers, trash cans
LDPE is used for: bread bags, shipping envelopes, thin container lids, toys
PE holds the second largest market share at 26.3% because it’s so widely available. Yet both HDPE and LDPE are experiencing a dip in pricing, even though demand is stable. Why? Serious competition from the virgin plastics and off-spec material market — which is high in volume and low in price.

One of the implications of this availability of and preference for cheap virgin material is that businesses and consumers aren’t seeing the value of using film-grade recycled materials, such as the use of postconsumer resin (PCR) in garbage and grocery bags.

This demand for recycled film grades could change, though, thanks to a California law that increases the PCR content in reusable plastic bags from 20 to 40 percent in 2020. Other initiatives (such as the coalition known as Recycle More Bags) are striving to bring action via proposed legislative action and procurement policies to boost demand for bags containing PCR.

If you want to learn more about how Recycle 1 can help you with your plastics recycling strategy, contact us.