European paper recycling rate falls as export markets tighten

Rolls of paper in a paper millThe European paper recycling rate has fallen from 72.4 per cent to 71.6 per cent in 2018, largely due to a sizeable fall in exports of paper for recycling, most notably to Asia, according to the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI).

In its latest update on the state of the European paper and pulp market for 2018, CEPI (which represents paper and board trade associations from 17 European countries) revealed that exports of paper for recycling had fallen by 6.1 per cent to 9.97 million tonnes in 2018, down from 10.6 million tonnes in 2017.

This was largely accounted for by a 7.4 per cent drop in exports of paper for recycling to Asia, which receives 88.3 per cent of all European exports of paper for recycling. Exports to Asia fell from 9.5 million tonnes to 8.8 million tonnes in 2018, something that can partly be attributed to China’s decision to ban the import of 24 grades of solid waste, including unsorted mixed papers, at the start of 2018. Several other Asian countries have since followed suit and imposed their own trade restrictions.

Such a contraction in the export of paper for recycling saw the total recycling rate of paper and board for 2018 fall slightly from 72.4 per cent to 71.6 per cent.

Exports of finished paper and board to Asia also fell in 2018, down by 7.3 per cent, which limited growth in total European exports of paper and board to 1.1 per cent, with Asia representing 25.6 per cent of all exports. Meanwhile, exports increased by 14.2 per cent to North America and by 10.6 per cent to Latin America.

In terms of total production, CEPI members produced 92.2 million tonnes of paper and board in 2018, maintaining levels of production from 2017. CEPI members also opened nine new paper mills and created 2,000 new jobs, while increasing total industry turnover by €2.6 billion (£2.3 billion), a percentage increase of three.

Furthermore, 2018 saw an increase in the amount of raw materials used in paper and board production, with a 3.7 per cent increase in total wood used in production and a 1.1 per cent increase in total raw materials used.

The industry has made progress in reducing carbon emissions, with direct CO2 emissions falling by 17.5 per cent in 2018 from 2017 and indirect CO2 emissions down by 31.3 per cent.

You can read the CEPI Key Statistics Report for 2018 on the CEPI website.

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