The European Paper Recycling Council recently released its Monitoring Report 2019. This report, published every year, monitors progress relating to the European Declaration on Paper Recycling 2016-2020.
Since 2000, the European paper value chain has been committed to the two-fold aim of improving recycling and increasing efforts to remove obstacles hampering paper recycling in Europe. In 2016, the signatories of the new European Declaration on Paper Recycling declared their commitment to reach a 74% paper recycling rate by 2020.
In 2019, 72% of all paper and board consumed in Europe was recycled. The collection of paper for recycling decreased by 2.5% compared to 2018 and reached 57.5 million tonnes. Paper and board consumption has decreased more strongly compared to 2018 and dropped to 79.8 million tonnes. The recycling rate, therefore, increased from 71.7% in 2018 to 72% in 2019.
Compared to the base year of the Declaration (2015), the amount of paper and board collected and recycled decreased by 1.6 million tonnes.
In Europe, the paper industry was constant in its use of paper for recycling. The drop in collection can be explained by a further reduction in Chinese demand for paper for recycling in line with the Chinese government’s decision to reduce its dependency on secondary raw materials originating from third countries by 2020.
Whether or not the 74% recycling rate target by 2020 can be reached will depend on the development of paper and board consumption which will be impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak and general economic downturn. New recycling capacities are being built, but not all of them will come on stream due to the economic consequences of Covid-19.
The structural change in paper consumption patterns continued in 2019: decline in the consumption of newsprint accelerated in 2019 at a rate of 6.5%, while consumption of case materials, the other most recycled paper product, declined only slightly by 0.6%.