Towards a 74% paper recycling rate in 2020: challenges and opportunities
On 9 October, the European Paper Recycling Council (EPRC) organized a press briefing with over 50 trade journalists and industry representatives to present its 2019 monitoring report, and in particular to explain how the efforts from the European paper value chain towards a 74% paper recycling rate in 2020 are bringing some concrete results, in spite of a changing recycling market in Europe and the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
During the webinar, Angelika Christ, chair of the EPRC, highlighted the importance of recycling being a matter of innovation and education, mentioning the latest EPRC award winner a European-wide educational program aimed at children primarily aged between 8 and 11 years and called TICCIT (Trees Into Cartons, Cartons Into Trees) from Pro Carton.
Ulrich Leberle, EPRC secretary and Cepi Raw Materials Director, underlined the recycling performance of the paper and board industry with already 84.6% of paper and board being recycled today, which is more than all other packaging materials (metal, glass, plastic). The share of recycled fibers compared to fresh fibers is growing in paper and board products, reaching 54% today.
He also emphasized that recycling inside Europe is increasing, keeping the fibres in the loop in Europe from consumption to recycling. Leberle commented that Europe’s trading partners for paper for recycling are changing, as China’s imports are declining while India, Indonesia and Malaysia are now compensating for one part of these imports.
Regarding the Covid-19 impact on the paper and board industry in 2020, paper and board production declined but to more favourable rate (-3.2 %,) than what most other manufacturing industries experienced, showing that the Covid-19 impact on paper & board industry was less pronounced than in other manufacturing sectors due to intrinsic resilience of our sector, and for paper & board packaging, manufacturing even grew by 10% over the first quarter of 2020.
Finally, he mentioned that packaging is and will remain at the center of the Green Deal discussions especially with the expected Circular Economy Action Plan and Sustainable Products Initiative next year.
During the Q&A discussion, participants discussed the impact of the Chinese waste ban on the European recycling market, the share of recycled fibers coming from each source (households, commerce/industry, office), the impact of the closures of some sorting centers during the COVID 19 lockdown earlier in 2020 and the influence of e-commerce on paper for recycling availability.
The full webinar recording can be watched here.
Every year the EPRC monitoring report provides the latest data on the progress achieved to reach the 2020 objective. Download the 2019 report here.