The Netherlands – ‘Europe is the world leader when it comes to recycling paper,’ declared Ulrich Leberle at the Paper Recycling Conference in Rotterdam yesterday. ‘72% of our paper is now recycled, this is a huge leap from the 35% rate we achieved back in 1992,’ the representative of the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) stated.
Over 58 million tonnes of paper are collected for recycling from households, commerce, industry and offices. The ‘strong growth’ in European paper recycling is the result of best practices across the continent, according to Leberle.
The contribution of recycled fibres in the raw material mix of the European paper industry has notably increased over the last few years; from 25 million tonnes in 1991 to more than 47 million tonnes in 2014.
Also, the recycling of paper and board packaging already surpassed the 81% recycling rate in 2011. Even so, Leberle insisted that the ‘maximum potential’ still pretty much stands at 80%, as some material like wallpaper won’t be recycled. On the whole, the paper industry is creating value ‘made in Europe’, delegates were told, as at least 82% of raw materials come from Europe.
The CEPI members from 18 different countries operate 959 pulp & paper mills between them and account for 23% of world production. The latter refers to nearly 20 million tonnes of paper and board and almost 4 million tonnes worth of pulp exports.
Leberle cited the IMPACTPapeRec project as a way to improve collection rates for paper across Europe. Launched in the Spanish city Valencia at the start of the year, the programme pools the expertise of 19 industry specialists and will serves as a benchmark for industry success stories.
The various project partners are currently compiling data following a series of plant tours and R&D surveys conducted over the summer in Spain, Bulgaria, Romania, and many others. Ultimately, this will result in a practical guide book, to be released before the end of the year. Additionally, a round of open workshops will be organised in 2017.
‘We want to show industry stakeholders what it possible and, most of all, to encourage people to get involved,’ Leberle said with enthusaism. ‘Together, we can navigate towards the future. Towards even more collection and recycling.’