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Technical Report #19 - Chelsea Center for Recycling and Economic ...

Technical Report #19 - Chelsea Center for Recycling and Economic ...

Graph 1: Cost of Virgin

Graph 1: Cost of Virgin HDPE vs. High Quality Recycled HDPEUS cents/pound5550454035Virgin HDPE3025Recycled HDPE2015101992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999Source: Data extracted from historical resin pricing at www.plasticnews.comGraph 2: Cost of Virgin LDPE vs. High Quality Recycled LDPEUS cents/pound555045403530252015101992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999Virgin LDPERecycled LDPESource: Data extracted from historical resin pricing at www.plasticsnews.com16

Graph 3: Cost of Virgin Polypropylene vs. High Quality Recycled PolypropyleneUS cents/pound555045403530252015101992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999Virgin PPRecycled PPSource: Data extracted from historical resin pricing at www.plasticnews.comPrices for virgin plastics are generally in decline. Most economists for the plastics industryfeel that prices have hit an all-time low and that prices should begin to start creeping up latein 1999 or early 2000. The historically low prices are normally attributed to a combination oflow oil prices and excess capacity. Either situation negatively affects the plastics recycling industry.The variabilities of supply and quality of recycled resins becomes harder to justify whenvirgin resin prices are low.At times, for particularly high demand resins like blow molding grade HDPE, demandexceeds supply. In those cases, plastic goods producers with mandated recycled content will actuallypay more for recycled than for virgin. Conversely, those plastic good producers who usuallyuse recycled plastic for cost savings sometimes buy virgin resins for their products.The problem is further complicated by the availability of wide-specification (wide-spec)or off-spec virgin resins. Wide-spec resins are created when the plastics reactor starts-up andwhen it is running outside of its normal operating parameters. Wide-spec plastics may be slightlyoff color or some of the mechanical properties may fall just outside of the normally tight tolerance.This material finds a niche between recycled material and virgin prime material. Whiletechnically virgin, it is sometimes downgraded to “recycled” by a broker trying to make a sale.Virgin prime material is also sometimes downgraded to “wide-spec” when there is excess capacityor supply.IV.WOOD-PLASTIC COMPOSITE PRODUCTS, INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT,AND MARKETS1. Industry DevelopmentWood-based composite products are not new. Products such as particleboard, flakeboard,and medium density fiberboard have been used for years and are well accepted in the market-17

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