Q1 Recycling Market Snapshot 2016


The recycling market suffered through some relatively dark days in the opening months of 2016, as ferrous scrap metal kept the overall recycling market tamped down. Much like the weather, the market is showing signs of heating up as we approach the warmer days of summer.

The ferrous market displayed gains in January and led many to believe that the lows of November would quickly be forgotten. Pricing did not increase substantially going forward, with the February market largely stagnant and March experiencing only minimal gains.

Good news has emerged in April, however, as ferrous pricing is up around $40-$50 per ton in many of the domestic regions, reaching heights unseen since the summer of 2015. Industry experts do not feel this trend will continue, however, and predict that ferrous prices will hold relatively steady in the short term.

The early part of 2016 has been kinder to the nonferrous scrap market, but copper and aluminum scrap are still trading at relatively low prices.

Copper pricing underwent a volatile January, steadied in February before strengthening in March. The fundamentals for the scrap market remain unconvincing so expectations of price increases are few and far between.

Aluminum scrap grades have remained almost static in 2016, with most categories gaining only a few cents per pound across the year’s first three months. Much like copper, many market experts expect aluminum scrap to remain relatively stagnant with regards to pricing.

Though pricing for recovered paper has largely remained unchanged across the year’s first few months, the overall health of this sector of the recycling market is very strong. Cardboard in particular should remain a staple of the recycling industry going forward as massive spikes in online shopping continue to create demand for recovered paper.

Plastic scrap continued its long period  of weakness in the first quarter of ’16  as oil prices descended to levels last seen in late 2003. Demand for plastic scrap remains healthy, however.


Disclaimer – Prices and market related information shown has been obtained by many sources across many commodity markets.  InStream has not verified the information beyond our sources. Information is based on assumptions and projections based on current market drivers. This information is provided as a service and InStream is not recommending action based on the market information provided and is not responsible for the direction of markets and/or results based on the data provided.


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