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Can paper recyclers get through the 7 stages of grief?

Germany – ‘What we are going through is the seven stages of grief. A lot of us are still stuck in ‘shock’, ‘denial’, or ‘anger’. We must look ahead and find a way to accept this paradigm shift,’ said Wade Schuetzeberg addressing the consequences of China’€™s import restrictions at the annual Recovered Paper Conference in Düsseldorf, Germany.

In the first two months of this year, imports of recovered paper shipped to China have gone down by nearly 47% year-on-year.

This a big blow for the UK, which had gotten used to exporting some 46% of its post-consumer paper to China.

Stories of the UK massively stockpiling or burning recovered fibres were said to be entirely incorrect, however.

Turbulent year

‘On the whole, 2017 was a turbulent year. People love to talk about prices. But prices are not the main concern, risk management is,’ Wade Schuetzeberg, executive director European Region at America Chung Nam told the 500+ delegates attending the bvse association event. ‘Fear is never a good motivator – at least not if you want to reach good results,’ he added.

In Japan, contamination is only at 0.1%, Schuetzeberg pointed out. In his opinion, Europe would not be ‘in trouble’ if it would stick to the targets it has set for itself. ‘I think that 1.5% contamination is certainly measurable. Nowadays we have all kinds of solutions available to find out what the quality of a bale is. This is not rocket science,’ he noted.

New volume

Talking about paper production, David Powlson of research firm Pöyry stated: ‘There is a distinct likelihood that future production growth will be built by the current leading Asian corporates.’

He hinted at the fact that, already, Asian players represent 45% of the world’s top 15 producers’ capacity. Powlson stressed that around 200 new recycled paper mills were constructed during the last ten years. ‘Over three quarters of this new volume is in China.’

Delegates were told that it was yet unsure whether all planned capacity would ‘become a reality’. 

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