The paper industry uses respected forestry certification schemes to ensure that virgin fibre originates from sustainable sources. The two most recognised certification schemes are Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification™ (PEFC™).
Paper is highly recycled and, in Europe, re-used an average 3.8 times. 56% of the fibrous raw material used in Europe’s paper industry comes from paper for recycling.[1, 2]
In 2020, a total of 56 million tonnes of paper was collected and recycled in Europe – a recycling rate of 74%. This is approaching the estimated practical maximum of 78%.
For paper packaging, the recycling rate is even higher, with 83% of paper and cardboard packaging being recycled in Europe. Paper is the most recycled packaging material, followed by metal (80%), glass (75%) and plastic (42%).
Only 16% of European consumers understand that paper and paper-based packaging has a high recycling rate.
Two Sides & Toluna research, 2021
Paper cannot be recycled indefinitely as the fibres get too short and worn out to be useful in creating a new sheet of paper. Furthermore, production cannot be based on 100% recycled fibre as 100% of consumption cannot be collected. The cycle must therefore be constantly refilled with new strong virgin fibres from sustainably managed forests.
Two Sides encourages responsible paper consumption. Double-sided printing in the office and separate collection schemes will reduce costs and improve sustainability. Once a paper product’s purpose is complete, it can be placed in the recycling bin and collected alongside other used paper products from businesses and households.
The European paper industry is a leading recycler and, with local collecting systems improving, will increase its recycling rates even further.