Demand for recovered fiber in the U.S. is good, sources say, as domestic pricing for nearly all grades remained flat from the month prior, apart from the $5 and $10 pricing increases seen on the West Coast for most grades. Sorted office paper (SOP) pricing was unchanged on the West Coast; the high grade saw pricing hikes of $5 in the Buffalo, New York, region and of $10 in the Midwest and Southeast regions, Boston-based research firm RISI’s Nov. 4 PPW Yellow Sheet reports.

Beyond SOP, the report shows domestic pricing for the recovered paper grades of mixed paper, old corrugated containers (OCC) and old newspapers (ONP) remained stable in every region, with the exception of the West Coast: Mixed paper and OCC pricing jumped $5 or $10 in the Los Angeles/San Francisco and Pacific Northwest regions for November orders, while ONP saw a $5 increase in the Pacific Northwest region.

At $73.06 per ton, mixed paper reached the highest pricing point it has seen for the second time since Recycling Today began publishing RISI’s pricing in July 2014. (Mixed paper pricing topped $73.06 for the first time in August.)

OCC (purple circles); Mixed (2)/Mixed Paper (54) (black squares); *Average U.S. dollars per short ton for open market purchases by mills for delivery in November as reported by RISI’s PPW Yellow Sheet Nov. 4, 2016. Prices used with permission from PPW Yellow Sheet. Free trial available: www.risi.com/rt.

OCC’s pricing boost to $102.50 is the second highest figure reported by RISI since May 2014; pricing for OCC reached $105.84 in August 2016.

A broker based in the Northeast says that while historically this time of year is viewed as a high collection time, generation has held steady.

He says, “So far we have not seen the usual increase [in generation], especially on the OCC side. This may be partially due to the fact that quite a bit of OCC is now mixed with residential mixed paper.”

In the United Kingdom, recyclers are taking action to exceed quality standards for fiber collected from households, according to a speaker at the 2016 Paper Recycling Conference Europe, held in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in early November. Simon Ellin of the U.K.-based The Recycling Association (TRA) said the TRA and its members are striving to prove that fiber collected from households through government programs can meet the low contamination thresholds established by mills in Europe, China and throughout the world.

He said Asian mill buyers and U.K. recyclers “both want to get quality right, and we both want to get regulations right.” The China Certification and Inspection Group (CCIC), Ellin said, is one of the newest members of TRA.

Back in the U.S., export pricing climbed for every secondary paper grade sold out of every U.S. port.

Export buying remains strong as overseas buyers continue to purchase to build strong inventories ahead of China’s Lunar New Year. The Northeast-based broker says shipments to China have been strong, as have shipments to Taiwan and Vietnam, though to a lesser degree.

On the packaging side, a seller for an international fiber trading company based on the West Coast says linerboard and medium mills are running steady.

*U.S. dollars per short ton for open market purchases by mills. Domestic prices are FOB seller’s dock for delivery in November as reported by RISI’s PPW Yellow Sheet Nov. 4, 2016, while export prices are FAS port of origin. New York includes ports in northern New Jersey and LA includes Long Beach and LA ports. Prices used with permission from PPW Yellow Sheet. Free trial available at www.risi.com/rt.

“The linerboard and medium mills seem to be rocking and rolling,” the seller says.

The East Coast-based broker agrees. “U.S. paper mills are running very strong, especially the linerboard mills,” he says. “Deinking and tissue mills continue to run strong, with good demand.”

As for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) specifications recyclers use to make deals for recovered fiber, the broker says the recent ratifications are “long overdue.”

Paper Stock Industries (PSI), a national chapter of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), and ISRI’s board of directors have ratified a number of new recovered paper grades. However, Nov. 5, ISRI’s board of directors passed a motion unanimously to postpone the deletion of ONP Nos. 6, 7 and 8 and mixed paper Nos. 1, 2 and 3 from Dec. 31, 2016, to June 30, 2017. The postponement is designed to allow those that might have contracts that refer to the former specifications more time to revise them.