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Europe's paper recycling rate hits global high

Europe’s paper recycling rate hit a world record of 72.2% in 2009, according to figures published by the European Recovered Paper Council (ERPC).

But the announcement was paired with caution as ERPC stressed that the jump in the recycling rate is a result of a drop in paper consumption across the year but continued steady recycling rates.

So it is possible that, when the economy recovers, the recycling rate could fall because recycling may not be able to adjust immediately to the reviving paper consumption. The prediction for the 2010 paper recycling rate is for it to be less than 70%, probably closer to the 2010 commitment of 66%.

The recycling rate is the ratio between the recycling and consumption of paper.

ERPC secretary Jori Ringman explained:  “Recycling is intrinsically a self-adjusting mechanism which, with a lag of three to six months, will adapt to any volume of consumption. In the trend, the industry will continue on its path to meeting ambitious targets of recycling paper at a steadily increasing rate in Europe.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers has independently verified the recycling rate calculations. The figures do not include recycling or recovery operations that take place in sectors other than the paper industry.

Data showed that although 2009 saw a recycling rate of 72.2% in 2009 against the previous year’s 66%, the total amount of paper collected was 1.9 million tonnes less than in 2008 at 58 million tonnes.

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