54.5% of paper used in Europe is recycled

Posted: 29 September 2006 in Europe, Recycled paper

Some statistics from CEPI:

In 1998, production of paper and board in Europe[1] amounted to 83.3 million tonnes. Consumption was 77 million tonnes. By 2005, these figures had increased to 97.1 million tonnes produced with 84.3 million tonnes consumed.

Consumption increased by 1.3%/yr and production by 2.2%/yr.

The amount of paper collected for recycling has increased from 38.9 million tonnes in 1998 to 53.5 million tonnes in 2005.

In 2005, 46.6 million tonnes of paper produced used collected paper as a raw material. In other words, 54.5% of all the paper used in Europe in 2005 was recycled paper.
On 28 September 2006, representatives of Europe’s paper industry signed the “European Declaration on Paper Recycling“, committing themselves to a target of 66% recycled paper use by 2010.

All this sounds great in theory, but the overall consumption of paper continues to increase. Industry commitments to recycle are not linked to commitments to stop the expansion of monoculture tree plantations in the Global South, for example.

One of the reasons that the pulp industry is moving to the Global South is because companies can get away with more pollution in the South, because of less stringent environmental legislation. CEPI confirms this to be the case in a recent report:

“Sensible measures are always needed to regulate industry and have driven large environmental improvements, but excessive, poorly targeted legislation, inconsistent or ‘one size fits all’ regulation and red tape can all put a brake on competitiveness. In the environmental arena, it is safe to say that Europe boasts global leadership, but this comes at a cost. As the cost of legislation mounts, the competitiveness of Europe’s paper industry declines in relation to competitors where environmental requirements are on a much lower level or their enforcement is lax.”

[1] Confederation of European Paper Industries countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands,
Norway, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

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