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Paper sector targets 76% recycling rate by 2030

A target to recycle 76% of all the paper and board consumed in Europe by 2030 has been backed by representatives of the European paper value chain. The rate in 2021 was 71.4%.

The commitment comes in a new European Declaration on Paper Recycling 2021-2030 published by the European Paper Recycling Council (EPRC) and launched at the European Paper Recycling Awards in Brussels.

The document sets out measures to optimise the management of paper at every step of a continuous recycling loop. ‘Each step in the process is a distinct industrial sector with only some degree of horizontal integration making cooperation a must to reach the ambitious recycling target,’ the declaration says.

The signatories argue that several enabling conditions from EU and local authorities are required, including ensuring that paper is separately collected to preserve the quality of the material and limiting how much paper waste is sent for energy recovery purposes. The paper value chain is also assessing what additional products could be recycled and how to get access to paper that is not finding its way to separate collection. 

‘The recycling rates we have already reached put paper and board as industry frontrunners,’ says Ulrich Leberle, EPRC secretary. ‘Both ongoing initiatives and planned steps will allow us to close the circular economy loop even further.’

Winners at awards include EnEWA, a German research and development project focusing on the optimisation of sorting, cleaning and recycling paper even when it is mixed with other residual household or commercial waste. Another is the Celab cross-industry initiative to recycle self-adhesive labels.

‘The projects or campaigns competing for the awards are all game changers in the way we recycle paper in Europe,’ says EPRC chair Annick Carpentier. ‘They will contribute to achieving our ambitious goal of a 76% paper recycling rate by 2030.’

EPRC was set up by the industry in 2000 to monitor progress towards meeting the paper recycling targets set out in the 2000 European Declaration on Paper Recycling. Commitments are renewed every five years.

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