Things to look for when buying mixed plastic scrap

Buying mixed bales of scrap plastic can be a cost-effective move for some scrap plastic buyers, but it’s important to make sure you get what you pay for. If you buy 4 truckloads of mixed plastic bales, but the percentage blend of #1 and #2 plastic isn’t right, the buyer might end up losing money on the deal.

Here are a few things to look for so that buyers and sellers can get what they need out of every mixed plastic scrap transaction:

  • Truck loading weight: A fully loaded truck weighs 45,000 lbs. Getting the truck as fully loaded as possible is important for scrap plastic buyers, because it costs you more per pound to put 20,000 lbs. on the truck than it does to load 40,000 lbs. Important to ship fully loaded trucks – if a truck weighs less, the buyer loses money because your deal is based on a full truck. If you as the buyer are concerned about not getting the full load weight, make sure to include a deduction as part of the negotiations on the order – so for example, if the truck weight is below a certain level, you should be able to deduct a certain amount per pound from the final price of the material.
  • The right blend of mixed plastic: Some scrap plastic buyers want a greater percentage of a certain mix of numbers, such as plastic #1 and #2 (since these are typically the most valuable grades of scrap plastic). Scrap plastic sellers need to be upfront with buyers about what you’ve got and what you’re selling. The blend of scrap plastic that appears in mixed bales often changes due to seasonal trends in curbside recycling pickup. For example, during the summer months, the weather is warmer and people are drinking more bottled water, so there is often more #1 PET plastic in the mixed plastic bales during summer than there is in winter.
  • Try to find a reliable supplier: One of the most important things to look for as a buyer of mixed plastic bales is to find a supplier who can deliver a consistent blend. There is some risk involved with buying mixed bales – you have to buy the material, run the material through a sorter, and make sure the material is a good quality level for what you need. If you find someone you can trust and you’re getting good yield – hold on to them! Mixed plastic can be more cost-effective for buyers if there’s a good percentage of #1 and #2 plastic. But as always, the devil is in the details.

What do you think about buying mixed plastic bales? Has this been a cost-effective way for your business to get the supply of #1 and #2 plastic scrap that you need?

Have you ever encountered a mixed plastic bales order that wasn’t delivered as promised? What are some common mistakes or errors that you’ve heard of, and how do you counteract these challenges?

Let us know in the comments!