The European paper industry is a leading recycler and, with local collecting systems improving, will increase its recycling rates even further.
The European paper recycling rate is 72%, which is approaching the practical theoretical maximum recycling rate of 78%.1 Some paper products cannot be recovered for recycling because they are kept for long periods of time (books) or archived (records); others are destroyed or contaminated when used (e.g. tissue and hygienic paper).
Recovery of European Print and Paper (CEPI statistics)
Two Sides members support the implementation of effective recycling schemes and the minimisation and eventual elimination, of print and paper waste in landfill.Two Sides Membership Charter, 2016
Paper is recycled, on average, 3.6 times a year in Europe1, while 54% of the fibre for Europe’s paper industry is from paper for recycling.2 Paper cannot be recycled indefinitely as fibres get too short and worn out to be useful in creating a new sheet of paper. More importantly, the production cannot be based on 100% recycled fibre, as 100% of consumption cannot be collected, and Europe is also a global net exporter of paper which is then consumed and collected outside of Europe. The cycle must therefore constantly be refilled with new fibres from sustainably managed forests.
While the EU is discussing how to transition to a circular economy, the paper fibre loop can serve as a model for circularity. Paper recycling is an industry ‘Made in Europe’. It prolongs value creation and creates job opportunities in Europe from a renewable, predominantly European resource, wood.European Paper Recycling Council, 2018
Two Sides encourages responsible paper consumption. Double-sided printing in the office and separate collection schemes will reduce costs and improve sustainability.
1 European Paper Recycling Council, Monitoring Report 2017
2 CEPI Key Statistics, 2018