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BIR Paper World Mirror July 2013

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.

The recovered paper industry serves as a perfect example of ‘the harmonious interaction between economy and ecology’, enthuses new BIR Paper Division president Reinhold Schmidt of Germany. One of his key presidential tasks, he adds, will be ‘to counter the increasing emergence of artificial barriers to the free and fair trade of recovered paper’.

Feedback from divisional experts confirms that economic ‘doom and gloom’ combined with quality controls to impact Europe’s fibre exports to Asia in the second quarter. OCC prices began the period at US$ 200-plus per tonne but had weakened to US$ 185-plus by its conclusion. Mixed paper prices dropped from US$ 170 to US$ 160-plus per tonne over the same three months.

The reduced flow of recovered fibre into merchant processors’ yards is a theme running through many of the reports submitted by industry experts to the latest BIR Paper World Mirror. In France, for example, collection volumes are said to remain low, leading to ‘a sustained struggle to source material’. Low collection volumes ‘are still the main issue’ in Spain, it is also reported.

In the former of these two countries, OCC prices still fell by Euro 10 per tonne in June whereas the market for medium grades remains quite steady despite declining collection volumes ahead of the summer holidays. And in Spain, OCC values dropped in May although domestic prices are deemed to be generally higher than in other European countries.

Made in Europe

Another major concern in Spanish recovered paper circles surrounds ‘Recycling made in Europe’ initiatives and their perceived threat to the free international market. The major municipality of Fuenlabrada, for example, is taking steps to ensure recovered paper collected in the area does not enter the general export stream. In general, only larger companies in Spain are exporting to China because of fears among smaller brokers concerning the strictness of the country’s ‘Green Fence’ import controls.

According to feedback from the UK, most suppliers have reacted on quality and moisture in line with ‘Green Fence’ strictures. However, some lower-grade MRF mixed ‘has proved particularly difficult to move’, with China ‘no longer a viable option for the lower-spec material’. Throughout the second quarter, demand remained strong across most grades of recovered paper in the UK, although late May and June saw a drop in orders for multigrade and SOW.

Other World Mirror reports put figures to the reduction in fibre collection volumes. For example, domestic collections in Sweden decreased by 7.4% to 324 000 tons in this year’s first quarter. In the ensuing three months, the country’s kraftliner mills continued to enjoy healthy order books to boost sales of OCC, with demand for ONP and overissue news also proving to be strong.

In the Czech Republic, meanwhile, there was a ‘moderate’ drop in overall collection volumes in January-March this year owing particularly to declines for the deinking grades and printer shavings, but the total for the year as a whole is still expected to approximate to the 800 000 tons of 2012. Domestic paper mills’ consumption has tumbled 36% this year, thus prompting an increase in exports.

Having failed to impose price increases on their customers, paper producers in Germany have looked instead to reduce fibre buying prices, reclaiming increases of Euro 5-10 per tonne from April. During June in Italy, a small price drop was reported for the lower and middle grades whereas the deinking and high grades remained stable. The word ‘stable’ was also used to describe the recovered paper market in Finland as well as first-quarter finished product values in Turkey; however, the latter’s paper mills dropped prices by 10% in the second quarter in a largely unsuccessful bid to invigorate the market.

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