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CPI reveals paper recycling rate fell by 2% in 2010

The recycling rate for paper fell by 2% in 2010 to 65% but UK consumption for paper and board increased by 1.2% according to data from the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI).

Reported in its 2010 Annual Review, the CPI outlines that the drop from a 67% recycling rate in 2009, down to the 2010 rate of 65% is a result of a “lag factor”, which is what happens when higher levels of recovery take a few months to reflect increasing consumption.  The report states that just over 8 million tonnes of recovered paper and board for recycling was collected in 2010, this is 150,000 tonnes less than in 2009.

The UK recycling rate is still higher than the European average, which is 64.5%.

The report  added: “As we go forward, paper and board recovery and recycling levels are likely to climb; reflecting the higher consumption levels.”

Results showed domestic usage of recovered paper fell in 2010 by a further 1.5% (55,000 tonnes) down to 3.762 million tonnes, after a fall in 2009.

CPI director general David Workman said he wanted to emphasise the positive aspects of the industry’s performance over the past  10 years. “The recycling rate of paper and board has risen to a level which means that it has the highest recycling rate of all materials. Our health and safety record is also very impressive with a significant reduction in accidents… In addition, our industry continues to invest in the UK, so creating jobs.”

From the total amount of paper and board the UK exports, the proportion of paper and board collected and sent to China for recycling was “significantly” down this year, dropping from 85% in 2009 to 62% in 2010. The CPI explained this change was down to the increased European demand for UK recovered paper and board with Europe increasing imports in 2009 from 14% to 22% in 2010.

However, the UK share of the recovered paper and board market in China rose from 10% to 11%. The European share, excluding the UK, dropped from 23% to 18%.

The CPI believes the export market will still play a key role within the industry because growth in domestic recycling capacity will be slow.  But quality continues to be an issue affecting materials desirability for future exports. The CPI also cautions against growth in domestic recycling capacity negatively impacting on materials quality.

According to the CPI, despite the increase in UK paper consumption in 2010, subdued levels of consumption in Western economies have meant a reduced supply of material for export to the Far East. However, strong demand for material has pushed up paper prices, leading to volatility in the market.

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