Since 2000, the European paper value chain has been committed to the two-fold aim of increasing recycling and joining efforts to remove obstacles hampering paper recycling in Europe. Consequently, today’s situation is transformed relative to what we experienced 15 years ago.
In 2014, 71.7% of all paper consumed in Europe was recycled, totalling 58 million tonnes. Compared to the previous year, that represents an increase of 0.7%. Paper consumption has increased by the slightly higher figure of 1.2% compared to 2013, reaching 81 million tonnes. Currently, 22% of paper consumption cannot be collected or recycled. We are clearly nearing maximum potential.
This situation is also linked to changing consumption patterns affecting the most recycled paper products. We have seen the continued decline of newspaper consumption in 2014. At the same time, the increased consumption of corrugated boxes has only partly compensated the challenge of declining graphic paper consumption for the overall recycling rate.
In 2014, we have also seen good achievements at the regional level, despite differences continuing to exist. The number of countries with recycling rates below 60% has
decreased, while the number of countries with a recycling rate above 70% has increased, compared to last year.
On an international level, Europe continues to be the world leader in paper recycling, followed by North America. Other world regions’ paper recycling rates have also improved, but starting from lower levels. In Europe, paper fibres have 3.5 loops on average, far above the global average of 2.4.
The paper fibre loop offers the current EU-level discussions on the circular economy a clear and workable model to be followed. Paper recycling is an industry “Made in Europe”. It prolongs value chains and creates green European jobs based on a renewable resource.
CEPI is a Signatory Member of the ERPC.
ERPC website: www.paperforrecycling.eu