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Old corrugated containers (OCC) prices experienced a long, slow slide downward from $105.84 per ton in November 2017 to a low point of $25 per ton in June 2019. Also, mixed paper prices declined sharply in the fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Altogether, since the middle of 2018, mixed paper prices have remained near $0 per ton.
That said, what OCC recycling? Well OCC is made up of used corrugated boxes and makes up the largest portion of fiber in the commercial recycling stream and is the second most prevalent grade, after mixed recycled paper, in municipal OCC recycling programs. In terms of environmental impact, most corrugated cardboard boxes have over 25% recycled fibers and some are even made of 100% recycled fiber.
Weak demand for recovered fiber began when China cut back its imports of recovered fiber in 2017. This has been further exacerbated by the weak global economy. China’s action to limit imports of recovered paper has disrupted the overall market in the U.S. and other major recovered fiber generating regions. In the last several years, North American recycling operations have seen that overseas markets they have historically looked to for fiber products, have become much more difficult to access. Rising global purity standards are either virtually unobtainable using traditional sorting and separation methods, or they are too costly to meet using options such as adding additional manual sorters. Unfortunately, mixed paper recycling is not lucrative and now consistently sells at a negative value or zero (at best) U.S. dollars per ton in most markets, while OCC is trading at the lowest levels seen in a decade.
Fluent Conveyors offers many cost-effective solutions for efficiently separating and baling recyclables from mixed paper and cardboard lines. With today’s low rates and high purity demands it is imperative to efficiently and accurately separate your OCC and mixed papers. Therefore, our goal is fast, efficient and low maintenance systems that will run reliably and last a long time. This way, we can ensure we protect your overhead and return a quick ROI. Fluent offers standard manual sorting systems from 3 man up to 12 man and beyond, as well as fully custom semi-automated sorting systems separating out color, news, white, and OCC. Fluent can build the system around your needs utilizing Magnetic belts, eddie currents, ballistic separators, fines screens, optical sorters, slider bed conveyors, trough idler conveyors and more. Fluent also offers many different belt options from our massive roller chain conveyors for high impact and high load applications to our post sort baler infeed conveyors.