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European paper recycling up as industry warns over EC guidance

Imports into Europe of paper for recycling rose by almost 26% in 2011 to 1.5 million tonnes, according to statistics from the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI).

The annual statistics showed CEPI countries also increased exports of paper for recycling by 9% to 10.3 million tonnes.

  • Exports to Asia, which make up 97.5% of CEPI exports: up 9.5% to 10 million tonnes.
  • Paper collected for recycling: up 0.2% to 57 million tonnes.
  • Utilisation of collected paper: down 1.2% to 48m tonnes.
  • Paper recycling rate: up 1.8% to 70.4%.
  • Overall production capacity: down 0.3% to 105 million tonnes.

Meanwhile, CEPI has claimed the European Commission’s latest guidance on end-of-waste criteria poses a “serious risk to advancing recycling” in Europe.

The EC guidance said: “The moment when a material or substance reaches end-of-waste is simultaneous with the completion of the recovery and recycling processes.”

CEPI said a material reaching end-of-waste should not be the equivalent of recycling. It said the guidance could cause unintended consequences and would be “frightening” to waste management companies which could be considered recyclers with legal responsibilities for output material but “without receiving any significant benefit”.

CEPI added that the Commission’s approach would increase the risk of mills “receiving low quality recyclates from collectors”.

A spokesman for the Environmental Services Association said: “Interpreting the end of waste criteria and the definition of recycling is a complex matter, and it is important that regulators develop rules which are both clear and practical, while protecting the environment and encouraging recycling. Whatever rules apply, ESA and CEPI members will remain important players in the value chain and will continue to share a common interest in maximizing recycling and resource efficiency”.

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