Italy – ‘You will have to deliver quality if you want to secure your business,’ warns Hans van de Nes, president of the paper recycling branch of the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) and managing director of Dutch paper and plastics recycler Sortiva. Speaking at EuRIC’s first European Recycling Conference held recently in Milan, Van de Nes said that, in the short term, ‘we will continue to see disrupted recovered paper markets’ owing to China’s import restrictions on recyclables, including paper and plastics.
Exports are crucial for Europe’s recovered paper industry: currently, some 17.5% of the material collected in Europe is finding its outlet in Asia, mainly China. According to Van de Nes, the UK market will be hit hardest by the Chinese restrictions. ‘We saw export prices for OCC and mixed paper drop immediately after the announcement by China in July,’ he pointed out. ‘European mills decreased prices because of the extra offers from the UK market and other export-oriented areas.’
But Italy’s recovered paper exporters are also being – and will continue to be – hit hard by the Chinese contamination thresholds. ‘You will see loads of recovered paper piling up as stocks here in Milan as elsewhere in Italy, as some materials simply will no longer be accepted by the Chinese,’ said Van de Nes.
The times of making easy money are definitely over, according to the speaker. ‘The Chinese have said ‘Basta! We don’t want your garbage anymore’. For too long, we have been relying on the huge demands from China. And yes, we have made a fortune. But we forgot one thing: you have to deliver quality.’
Van de Nes told his Milan audience that the future of the European recovered paper industry can be secured only if all players aim for the highest quality. ‘That means high quality in the sorting and processing, and quality control on the output,’ he stressed. ‘This policy should be an incentive for everybody, and bring back the necessary costs in our value chain where they belong: the producer of the waste.’
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