1. The market for primary plastics
Precaution, stagnation or saturation? The ifo institute has now published the findings of the business test for March 2012, cf. www.cesifo-group.de, which shows that the ifo business climate index for Germany’s business, industry and trade rose only slightly from 109.7 in February to 109.8 in March. Just for comparison – the ifo business climate index reached 114.7 points in March 2011. The rise in expectations has subsided, the business situation has not improved any further. Following two favourable developments in a row, the business climate in the processing industry has slightly deteriorated. However, companies assess their business prospects as being more favourable. They expect to derive new impulses from export trade and intend to increase their permanent staff, albeit less considerably than in the previous month.
The plastics markets in the Far East are increasingly gaining in importance. Measures to extend the production of precursors and plastics are having an impact in these markets. In Europe there is still a sufficient or even considerable demand for plastics. Plastics Europe published and evaluated data for 2011 relating to the 27 EU member states in mid-March, cf. www.plasticseurope.org. This data shows, among other things, that the 2011 crisis has been overcome; and yet, plastics production (with an index of 90) and plastics processing (with an index of 100) have not yet attained the pre-crisis index values for 2007, which amounted to 108 and 106 respectively. Plastics production in Europe, with an index of 90 (compared to 100 for 2010), was even on the decline in 2011. It was in particular the sectors of automobile construction, electrical and electronic appliances as well as beverage packaging that boomed in the plastics processing industry in 2011.
Plastics production in Germany still shows a good demand. There has been a moderate increase in precursor prices in April. The plastics processors have sufficient orders until the end of the second quarter. The price rises in standard plastics, which are in part considerable, have led to more cautious order placements in April – in the hope that the price peak will be reached in May.
Standard plastics prices have risen again markedly in April 2012, cf. the March price index – and that despite the slightly lower demand for plastics during the Easter break. Polyolefins show marked price increases of 110 €/t to 140 €/t, whereas the PS and PVC listings have increased only moderately, namely by 10 €/t to 30 €/t. The price leaps in polyolefins are due to production plant failures. Hence, the average price of the ten types of plastics listed in EUWID is 1471 €/t. Thus the plastics price exceeds the listing for the previous month by 80 €/t. The following prices were quoted in the EUWID Price Watch in March 2012: LDPE film grade 1500 - 1550 €/t, LLDPE film grade 1430 - 1480 €/t, HDPE injection moulding 1480 -1540 €/t, HDPE blow moulding 1480 - 1540 €/t, PS crystal clear 1490 - 1540 €/t, PS high impact 1630 - 1680 €/t, PP homopolymer 1470 - 1520 €/t, PP copolymer 1520 - 1570 €/t, PVC tube grade 1180 - 1220 €/t and PVC film/cables 1280 - 1320 €/t. According to the March Price Watch, the PET prices rose only slightly. Hence, PET is now quoted at 1550 – 1650 €/t, i.e. its price has increased by 15 €/t on average.
2. The market for secondary plastics
During the Easter break the demand for plastics was slightly lower than in the previous month. Nevertheless, the recyclers’ order books are full until the end of the second quarter. The secondary plastics prices have risen again markedly. Plastics recyclers and plastics processors are looking for high-quality input in sufficient quantities. The amount of plastics being incinerated is still far too high. Unfortunately consumers throw packaging materials into the residual waste bin time and again. Even plastics arising in trade and industry are not separated into fractions satisfactorily. Surprisingly, there are still very high-grade post-consumer plastics being incinerated. Recyclates from secondary plastics are still in great demand. The export trade with the Far East is on the decline; there are reports on a rise in freight charges. In addition, the euro has continued to stabilise, which has led to a price increase compared to other key currencies.
2.1 EUWID Price Watch
The market behaviour indicated by EUWID follows the trends from the primary markets. The EUWID Price Watch for March shows moderate increases in all standard plastics. These price rises range between 10 €/t and 50 €/t. Surprisingly, experts warn against the decline in demand in the summer. The decline in orders is likely to trigger a trend reversal in the secondary markets in the summer.
The price rises in PE amount to 10 €/t to 30 €/t, which is only marginal compared to the price increases in virgin materials. The post-consumer PE prices have changed as follows: HDPE mixed colours 490 - 680 €/t, HDPE natural 630 - 700 €/t, LDPE mixed colours 500 -630 €/t, LDPE natural 650 - 700 €/t, LDPE film grade natural (K49) 230 - 320 €/t. LDPE film grade natural (K40) 440 - 550 €/t. The post-user PE prices have changed as follows: LDPE shrink film natural (E40) 440 - 520 €/t, LDPE shrink film mixed colours (E49) 240 - 310 €/t, film transparent natural < 70 µm 350-390 €/t, film transparent mixed colours < 70 µm 90-130 €/t, LDPE farm film s/w > 70 µm (B41) 40 - 80 €/t, mixed film 98/2 350 – 370 €/t, mixed film 90/10 220 – 255 €/t, mixed film 80/20 200 - 235 €/t, HDPE hollow bodies mixed colours (C29) 230 - 330 €/t, HDPE regrind from crates, colour-separated 620 - 770 €/t as well as HDPE regrind from crates mixed colours 570 – 680 € /t.
The price rises in PP range between 30 €/t and 50 €/t. The following PP prices are listed in the March Price Watch: film grade mixed colours (K59) 150-330, film grade natural (K50) 350 – 480 €/t, homopolymer mixed colours 450 - 680 €/t, homopolymer natural 650 - 780 €/t, copolymer mixed colours 480 - 690 €/t as well as copolymer natural 650 - 780 €/t.
The favourable developments in the building industry have led to moderate price rises in PS and PVC: the PS prices have risen slightly by 10 €/t to 20 €/t: standard mixed colours 510 - 680 €/t, standard crystal clear 610 - 830 €/t, standard white 610 - 830 €/t, high impact mixed colours 610 - 680 €/t, high impact black 630 - 720 €/t and high impact white 710 - 850 €/t. The price increases in PVC range between 10 €/t and 30 €/t. Post industrial: PVC_P transparent 430 - 530 €/t, PVC_P mixed colours 375 - 470 €/t, PVC_U mixed colours 450 - 600 €/t and tube grade mixed colours 410 - 580 €/t. Window frame regrind: window frame regrind white 620 - 750 €/t, window frame regrind mixed colours 490 - 600 €/t and window frame regrind single-shade white 730-850 €/t.
According to the March Price Watch, the quotes for used and disposable PET bottles have increased again markedly, namely by 75 €/t for PET transparent and by 50 €/t for PET mixed colours. The following prices are now quoted for used and disposable bottles: PET transparent 470 - 530 €/t and PET mixed colours 270 - 320 €/t. The price rises in PET for used and disposable bottles exceed the increases in the listings for primary goods.
2.2 plasticker price index
According to the plasticker price index for March, the quotes for standard plastics rose by 22 €/t on average compared to the previous month. The price increases range between 10 €/t and 110 €/t, and there are price declines of 10 €/t to 60 €/t. The low supply figure for regrind from PVC_P still makes it impossible to quote guaranteed prices. The quotes and enquiries listed by plasticker were high throughout in March. According to plasticker the following quotes changed by more than +/- 40 €/t: HDPE regranulates +60 €/t, LDPE regranulates +110 €/t, PP bale goods – 60 €/t, PS regranulates +50 €/t and PVC_U +50 €/t. The first forecast of the April quotes, which are listed in May, indicates further price rises.
Table 1: Prices of standard plastics in plasticker, quoted in €/t
*: Supply figures too low to attain statistical significance; 1: equivalent to the grade “post-industrial, mixed colours”; 2: equivalent to K49; 3: equivalent to K59; 4: equivalent to “standard, mixed colours”; 5: equivalent to the grade “regranulates, black”.
In the plasticker price index for March, the quotes for technical plastics held their own compared to the previous month. The listings for technical plastics were very inconsistent: the price rises ranged between 20 €/t and 220 €/t, and there were price decreases of 10 €/t to 120 €/t. There was a considerable demand for technical plastics in March, too. The first forecast of the April quotes, which are listed in May, indicates a trend towards marked price rises in nearly all technical plastics. A considerable demand for technical plastics can be discerned for April and May.
Table 2: Prices of technical plastics in plasticker, quoted in €/t
No guarantee for any of the prices. All EUWID prices are quoted ex works. As a rule, the prices quoted refer to quantities in excess of 20 tons. The monthly quotes for secondary plastics, which are updated on an hourly basis, can be calculated using the price lists that are derived from the quotations published in the raw material exchange plasticker. The prices listed in this index are quoted with reservation - as the majority of the quotes submitted are not necessarily equivalent to the sales prices. Furthermore, plasticker does not distinguish between the following grades: transparent, mixed colours or colour-separated. Therefore, the information provided by plasticker may indicate different market behaviour than the prices quoted by EUWID.
Information about the market for plastics is being presented by:
bvse - Bundesverband Sekundärrohstoffe und Entsorgung e.V.
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