• Weekly Market Report

Commodity News

For U.S. scrap processors, it would be fair to say that the trend in primary and secondary commodity prices has not been entirely favorable this year.

The ReMA Index, a composite index of ferrous, copper, aluminum, and paper scrap prices, is down 21 percent for the year-to-date (through August):


But there’s good news in store for scrap market participants: they’ll get to hear from some of the best-informed industry participants and market analysts at this week’s ISRI Commodities Roundtable Forum starting this Wednesday in Chicago. Here’s the current line-up of roundtable panelists:

Wednesday, September 11
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Nickel Stainless Roundtable
Moderator: Michael Friedman, President, Sustainable Management Corp.
Panelists: Barry Hunter, Owner, Hunter Alloys, LLC;
Fred Penha, Base & Ferrous Metals, INTL FCStone;
Joe Pickard, Chief Economist & Director of Commodities, ISRI

3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Ferrous Roundtable
Moderator: Greg Dixon, CEO, Smart Recycling Management
Panelists: Andreas Bokkenheuser, Analyst, UBS;
Casper Burgering, Senior Commodity Economist, ABN AMRO Bank;
Blake Hurtik, Editor, Argus Media

Thursday, September 12
9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Special Topic: The Next Boom Market
Moderator: Randy Goodman, Executive VP – Greenland America, Inc.
Panelists: Adina Renee Adler, Asst. VP- International Affairs, ISRI;
Salim Bhabhrawala, Senior International Trade Specialist, US Dept. of Commerce;
Joe Pickard, Chief Economist & Director of Commodities, ISRI

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Copper Roundtable
Moderator: Randy Goodman, Executive VP – Greenland America, Inc.;
Panelists: Darrell Fletcher, Sr. Managing Dir of Commodities, Huntington Bank;
LeAnne Johnson, Nonferrous Sales Director, PSC Metals;
Pat Boyle, VP & Director, Master of Metals, H. Kramer & Co.

Friday, September 13
9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Aluminum Roundtable
Moderator: John Woehlke, Principal, JW Consulting
Panelists: Karsten Faak, Director Recycling, TRIMET Aluminium SE;
Doug Hilderhoff, Principal Analyst and Head, North America, Aluminum Research, CRU Group;
Becky Proler, President, Southern Core Recycling.

Ferrous –
Fastmarkets AMM reports that domestic ferrous scrap prices are down sharply this month: “The United States’ monthly ferrous scrap trade was moving swiftly toward completion on Friday September 6 as dealers did not hesitate to commit to lower-priced sales on fears that offer prices could fall further. Detroit settled quickly with prime scrap prices dropping by $40 per gross ton and secondary scrap prices falling by $30 per ton from August levels. Cleveland, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh mills followed the lead set by Detroit and negotiated a $40-per-ton price decline on prime scrap and a $30-per-ton price decline on cuts, shred and turnings.”

Slowing domestic manufacturing output, over-supplied markets, and softer overseas demand have not helped matters this year. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, YTD U.S. exports of ferrous scrap (through July, excluding stainless and alloy steel scrap) are down 2.2% this year as weaker shipments to Taiwan, Mexico, India, Egypt, Thailand have more than offset gains to other markets. U.S. ferrous scrap exports to Turkey reportedly slowed from 387,000 metric tons in June to 325,000 mt in July, but were still up 3.3% year-to-date according to the Census Bureau data:


Nonferrous –
Despite a 72 percent drop in exports to mainland China, the latest U.S. trade statistics show that U.S. copper and copper alloy scrap exports are down just 1.6% so far this year. Gains to Malaysia (+173%), India (76%), Hong Kong (+50%), Taiwan (+50%), Belgium (+48%), and others have largely offset the decline in direct shipments to mainland China.


But as with other scrap commodities, copper scrap prices in the U.S. remain under pressure. Here’s the trend in No. 2 copper scrap prices at refiners over the last decade:


Plastic –
Among the major scrap commodities, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that U.S. plastic scrap exports have had a particularly difficult time in 2019. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, plastic scrap exports from the U.S. are down nearly 46% by volume so far this year as shipments to China plunged 83% lower and were accompanied by weaker demand in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Taiwan. In percentage terms, PVC plastic scrap exports have had the worst performance this year (-83%), followed by plastics other than PET (-48%), PET plastics (-38%), and polyethylene (-35%).


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