- Increased demand drove commodities' price hikes this March in North America, with PET bottle resin seeing the most improvement of 2 cents per pound after slipping for six months. Polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and suspension polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are also recently up, while high-density PE (HDPE) has been up for six months now. Overall, polystyrene (PS) sales did not move in January or February of 2016, although there was a surge in demand.
- Recycled PP has dropped in value, although it has seen varied outcomes said Resin Technology Inc. market analyst Scott Newell to Plastics News. "Imports are here and are grabbing market share. This has created competitive situations in which many PP producers are responding with lower prices," he said.
- Also accompanying these trends are increased oil prices. West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices were $36 per barrel in early March, then rose to $41.50. Improved weather is an influencer too, associated with PVC demand in construction, as well as with PET demand as people drink more beverages.
It’s been a long, rough haul for commodities of almost all kinds, but it appears there may be a break in the pattern. While a clear trend seems to be emerging, sales do go up, down, or flatten in this cyclical market, depending on the commodity and often the region.
PVC is a prime example. Regionally, PVC slid about 1 cent per pound in January followed by a flat month in February, while in all of the US and Canada, sales rose 9% in those months, and export sales spiked almost 28%. On a promising note, PVC will regionally increase 3 cents per pound effective April 1, announce major suppliers.
The North American PET market continues to feel the strain of overcapacity, but industry experts say warmer weather usually boosts demand for soft drinks and bottled water that PET containers hold. Nylon is looking promising too as the demand is strong, at least in the automotive sector.
"Prices are catching up to lower feedstock costs," said Paul Blanchard, a market analyst with IHS Chemical in Houston, as reported in Plastics News. "For nylon, supply is a bit long so there’s also some competitive pressure on base resin prices."
Meanwhile, organizations like Closed Loop have faith in the recycling industry and are investing big in infrastructure hoping to see a sustained, healthy pattern moving forward.