Attached is your PO for deliveries of recyclables during November 2021.
The value of recyclables dropped significantly this month—more than during any single month since China’s National Sword. Every paper and plastic grade suffered large price decreases.
How did we get here? Although we saw a small price decrease in October, since March 2021 we benefited from a continuously growing market with commodity prices rising slightly or substantially every month. It has been good times for us. Today, in general, we see many paper mills and plastics suppliers with full inventories. Also, manufacturers who use boxes for shipping, plastics for bottles, and the like have pushed back hard on the continuing, monthly recyclables price increases. They are instead using material made from virgin material and refusing to pay the high prices. That all came to a head this month.
Specifically, to paper, every mill in the PNW is full of inbound paper or has more than adequate inventory at their facilities. This created a large drop in demand and a resulting large drop in paper pricing. Additionally, a couple of paper mills took planned maintenance downtime this month, further decreasing the overall paper demand.
The export logistical problems are worse than ever. We have struggled for 18+ months with vessels floating along the West Coast ports awaiting to be unloaded—first at the Long Beach port, but now equally as much in the Seattle and Tacoma ports. There are simply not enough hours in the day to unload all the waiting ships. Here are some very specific things affecting the logistical nightmare.
- The number of vessels in Long Beach has continued to rise and, now, we see similar situations in Seattle and Tacoma. And now, the ports in China and other Southeast Asian countries have similar logjams at their ports.
- Once vessels are unloaded, there is a severe shortage of domestic truck drivers to deliver unloaded containers to end customers and to return empty containers for reloading. Thus, it is very common vessels take extra days to load while waiting for container availability. Plus, there are a massive number of full containers floating on ships in the ocean.
- Domestic trucking shortages continue to hamper the region. These shortages and increased transportation costs are hurting an otherwise strong market demand for recycled paper.
- Once vessels and containers are available for loading, the shortage of domestic truck drivers makes it difficult to deliver containers with recycled material back to the port.
- China is once again paying for empty containers to travel back West so they can load them with one last surge of Holiday shipments.
The plastics market is no different from the paper market. The price of virgin resin to make milk jugs is 50% less than the price of resin from recycled milk jugs. While the plastic produces have made a strong commitment to responsibly use post-consumer recycled material, they cannot afford to pay 50% more for their recycled resin. So, this month, we saw the largest drop ever in HDPE Natural and HDPE Color pricing.
Likewise, UBC (aluminum can) prices dropped for similar supply and demand reasons. The can companies are full or have adequate supplies of recycled cans.
Where do we go from here? We believe prices will continue to drop through the Holiday season—hopefully not as much as this month. But, early in 2022, most economist believe the demand will once again exceed supply, and prices will slowly rise again.
We are in this with you. During these challenging times, we will always strive to obtain the best pricing available and to provide you the best possible service. To that point, we hope you have a joyful Holiday season and know that this is some of the busiest times for you. We are here with you. So, please note our Holiday schedule at the end of this letter. It is our pleasure to work with you to recycle material and to protect our environment. We appreciate you and thank you for your business.
P.S. – Please note our Holiday schedule below.
Thanksgiving – closed. We will be open for deliveries on Friday, NOV 26th, and Saturday, NOV 27th.
Christmas Eve – we will close for deliveries at 2 PM.
Christmas Day – closed. We will be open for deliveries the following Monday, DEC 27th.
New Year’s Eve – we will close for deliveries at 2 PM.
New Year’s Day – closed. We will be open for deliveries the following Monday, JAN 3rd.