Global – The following article is based on the latest Paper World Mirror produced by the BIR world recycling organisation for the benefit of its members.
OCC prices were around US$ 195-plus per tonne at the start of the year and strengthened to US$ 225-plus by mid-February before easing in March to nearer US$ 215-plus as demand slackened, according to BIR Paper Division President Ranjit Baxi. Mixed papers also moved up during the first six weeks of the year – from US$ 170-plus to US$ 185-plus per tonne – before dipping in March to the levels witnessed at the beginning of the year.
For 2011 as a whole, China imported more than 27 million tonnes of recovered fibre, of which the USA supplied 11.7 million tonnes and Europe 8.2 million tonnes. The US share of this market increased when compared to 2010 whereas Europe’s registered a small decrease – an outcome Mr Baxi linked to the prime importance Chinese mills are now attaching to recovered paper quality.
Mr Baxi also noted that cautious consumer spending in the first quarter resulted in reduced recovered fibre collection levels in Europe. Given strong domestic demand and rising freight rates, exports therefore became ‘a challenge’.
In Finland, harsh winter weather dented collection volumes in February this year – most particularly news & pams garnered from households – but normal levels have since been regained. Domestic demand for news & pams and OCC were very brisk during the first three months of this year whereas imports and exports dwindled to low levels. Severe winter weather also struck Turkey, resulting in a sharp drop in collection rates and price increases in February of Euro 10 per tonne for the high grades, Euro 15 for newspapers and around Euro 20 for OCC. With mills running at full capacity at the end of the first quarter, further price progress is predicted for the immediate future.
Recent months have also brought low collection volumes in France at a time of healthy demand from paper mills. Consumers in Germany were equally eager for supplies of recovered fibre although Eastern European neighbours – particularly Poland – mopped up a sizeable proportion of the material that was available on the market.
Start-up of Saica’s new board mill in north-west England has added a further 400 000 tonnes per annum to OCC capacity in the UK. Helped also by good demand from mainland Europe and China prior to Chinese New Year, OCC prices made steady gains until the end of February. However, subsequent freight rate increases have led to lower prices for tonnage destined for China. The UK also reports increasing interest from China for sorted office waste and multigrade.
Full-year paper production and recycling figures have been emerging from a number of European countries. Notably, Germany consumed a shade over 16 million tons of recovered paper in 2011 – equivalent to a drop of 1.5% from the previous year. Domestic production of paper, carton and cardboard slid 1.6% last year to 22.69 million tons, with graphic papers sustaining a fall of 4% to 9.63 million tons but hygienic papers achieving growth of 2.1% to 1.37 million tons. German paper industry exports dropped 2.4% to 10.12 million tons whereas domestic sales dipped only 1.5% to 12.48 million tons.
Paper and board production in Finland dipped 4.1% last year, with the biggest decline coming in the graphic paper sector while packaging remained quite stable. Across in Sweden, consumption of recovered paper tumbled 6.8% last year to 1.711 million tons – news & pams falling 7.4% to 885 000 tons and OCC just over 7% to 525 000 tons. Overall collection volumes jumped 6.2% to 1.497 million tons, boosted by a 12% leap by OCC to 562 000 tons. Sweden’s recovered fibre imports plummeted 17.5% to 615 000 tons in 2011 whereas exports soared almost 24% to 375 000 tons, led by a 27.2% increase for OCC to 178 000 tons.
In the Czech Republic, recovered paper collection volumes climbed a mere 8000 tons last year to 776 800 tons while the recovery rate was a fraction above 60%. ‘Recovered paper collections are not improving and are unaffected by any increase in prices, especially when the prices change within short time periods,’ it is contended. Meanwhile, domestic paper mill production fell 4.2% last year when compared with 2010.
Recovered paper collections in Spain clocked up 4.723 million tonnes last year, with exports accounting for 781 000 tonnes. Domestic consumption was 5.093 million tonnes and imports amounted to 1.152 million tonnes.
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