MRF Bale Prices Increase in Q1 of 2024

Date: June 11, 2024

Source: Northeast Recycling Council (NERC)

The latest report from the Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) revealed a steady rise in average commodity prices in the first quarter of 2024, driven by both national and regional trends. Between January and March, year-over-year commodity prices increased by 19% with residuals and 17% without residuals. Residuals, in this context, refer to non-recyclable materials that remain after the sorting process, negatively impacting the overall value of recyclable commodities. The report, which gathered data from ten states including Delaware, Maine, and New York, received responses from 13 Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs), with 69% being single-stream and 31% dual-stream or source-separated.

During this period, the blended value of a ton, excluding the negative impact of residuals, reached $111.72, marking a 17% increase from the last quarter of 2023. When accounting for residual losses, the value was $103.15, reflecting a 19% rise. Dual-stream MRFs reported higher blended values, with a value without residuals at $126.26, a 23% increase, and a value with residuals at $114.86, a 27% increase from the previous quarter. Single-stream MRFs reported a value of $110.59 without residuals, up 13%, and $103.45 with residuals, up 14%. The higher values for dual-stream facilities can be attributed to the more effective separation of materials, resulting in cleaner, higher-quality recyclables.

The survey also addressed the processing costs for MRFs, which include sorting and selling recyclables. In the first quarter of 2024, the average processing cost was $85.93 per ton, down by approximately 7.7% from the prior quarter. This reduction in costs, combined with rising commodity prices, indicates an overall positive trend for the recycling industry in the surveyed states. Lower processing costs improve profitability for MRFs, enhancing their ability to manage and recycle waste efficiently. It will be interesting to see if the industry is able to capitalize on these promising developments.


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