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Factbox: Post-consumer bottle bale supply falls as drop-off centers close amid coronavirus fears

The supply of post-consumer bottle bales remains a major concern for California recyclers as collection rates continue to fall and more drop-off centers close out of fear their employees might get infected from dealing with residential material.

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The most populous state in the US is seeing the greatest supply drop-off, with market participants reporting a 50% to 60% decrease in total polyethylene terephthalate (PET) volume currently moving through the recycling supply chain in California.

So far, 450 recycling/buyback centers have closed their doors during the coronavirus pandemic, 350 of which are in the Northern California region, according to a West Coast source.

The main reason for the closures is because three large processors in Northern California have suspended intake of post-consumer material due to the same fear employees have expressed - contracting the virus.


**Ethane prices below 10 cents/gal prompted some producers to switch to heavier natural gas liquids to feed crackers amid prices at or near historic lows.

**Total North American rail carloads in March 2020 fell 6% to 224,918 from March 2019, with the clearest impact seen in rail volumes involving autos and auto parts, according to the American Association of Railroads.

**Abiplast, Brazil's plastics industry trade group, expects the plastics sector to see lower production in 2020.



**Non-LST ethane prices fell into single digits for the first time since March 18, down 62.5 points at 9.75 cents/gal.

**Spot April ethylene prices fell 0.625 cent/lb to a new all-time low of 8 cents/lb FD Mont Belvieu, while the April spot FD Choctaw price fell 0.50 cents/lb to 7.5 cents/lb.

**Non-LST propane prices rose 1.75 cents to 28.75 cents/gal.

**April spot polymer-grade propylene prices rose 0.5 cent to 22.50 cents/lb FD USG on Thursday, while refinery-grade propylene rose 0.25 cent to 10 cents/lb.


**Export LDPE prices were unchanged on the day at $937-$959/mt (42.5-43.5 cents/lb) FAS Houston.

**Export HDPE blowmolding was flat Friday at $662-$684/mt (30-31 cents/lb) FAS Houston.

**Export LLDPE butene prices were stable Friday at $662-$684/mt (30-31 cents/lb) FAS Houston.

**Export homopolymer PP prices were flat Friday at $1,058/mt FAS Houston.

**The post-consumer PET bottle bale market was seen stable on the day Friday with premium and curbside grades for the FOB LA marker unchanged at 18 cents/lb and 8 cents/lb, respectively.

**Brazilian petrochemical producer Braskem plans to increase its domestic delivered prices for LDPE and LLDPE in April by Real 300/mt, company sources said Friday, while HDPE and PP prices will remain stable.


**US MTBE prices rose 2.88 cents/gal to 60.38 cents/gal FOB USG.

**April spot methanol prices were flat at 68 cents/gal FOB USG.

**US April benzene closed at 101 cents/gal DDP USG on Friday, up 6 cents from Thursday.

**Prompt-month US styrene monomer was assessed flat on the day at $400/mt.

**FOB USG April and May toluene (nitn) was flat at 99 cents/gal Friday.

**FOB USG April and May mixed xylenes was stable at 104 cents/gal.

**FOB USG paraxylene prices rose $15/mt to $505/mt.

**US spot orthoxylene prices rose 0.50 cent to 21 cents/lb on nominal upstream mixed xylenes gains.

**USGC light straight-run naphtha prices rose nearly 30% to 38 cents/gal, up from 29.25 cents/gal on Thursday.

**NYMEX May RBOB settled at 69.16 cents/gal, up 2.88 cents.

**US spot export MEG prices fell 1.5 cents/lb to 14.5-15.5 cents/lb FOB USG.

**US butadiene fell 1 cent to 23 cents/lb CIF USG; the US butadiene contract settled 15.5 lower at 24.5 cents/lb.

**Latin American toluene prices rose $7/mt week on week Friday $251/mt FOB Brazil, mixed xylene prices rose $22/mt on the week to $265/mt FOB Brazil, and Latin benzene prices increased $9/mt to $277/mt FOB Brazil.


**Panjiva, the trade analysis unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence, said Friday that seaborne imports from China linked to Target, Walmart and H&M fell by 50% to 55% in the first three weeks of March compared to the year-ago period.

**Panjiva also said container line MSC and its 2M partner Maersk have cancelled two Asia-US services for Q2 while making ad-hoc changes to a further three services on Asia-US lines and two changes on Europe-US lines.