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Feature: Class II to blame for UK dip

Many of the headline trends established in previous months were continued in November 2005, according to latest statistics from the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI).

The penultimate month of last year produced a small decline in UK consumption of recovered paper, the bulk of which could be attributed to yet another sizeable drop in the Class II corrugated and kraft total.

The 7.4% decline pushed down consumption of this class from 164,889 tonnes in November 2004 to 152,704 tonnes in the same month last year.

Consumption of Class I mixed grades also fell over the two comparative periods — by 4.2% from 26,472 tonnes to 25,373 tonnes.

By contrast, Class III newspapers and magazines and Class IV high grades posted consumption gains in November last year: the former’s total went up from 129,867 tonnes in November 2004 to 133,838 tonnes — an increase of 3.1% — while consumption of the latter climbed 4.8% from 59,907 tonnes to 62,774 tonnes.

Rolling all these figures together, UK consumption of recovered paper slipped from 381,135 tonnes to 374,689 tonnes over the two comparative periods — a drop of 1.7%. Taking the first 11 months of the year as a whole, consumption was 1.5% lower at 4.173 million tonnes, with corrugated and kraft falling 8.6% behind its previous year’s performance to 1.766 million tonnes. Conversely, the three other classes of recovered paper recorded the following consumption increases over
the two January-November periods: mixed grades +3% to 288,546 tonnes; newspapers and magazines
+3.4% to 1.412 million tonnes; and high grades +6.9% to 706,980 tonnes.

Mill intake figures for last November contained some major swings, although the total of 402,108 tonnes was a mere 0.3% below the 403,208 tonnes registered in November 2004. Intake of mixed grades slid 11.2% to 23,520 tonnes while the corrugated and kraft total of 158,146 tonnes represented an 8.4% decline on the 172,661 tonnes recorded in November 2004. Compensation came in the form of a 5.9% increase in newspapers and magazines intake to 150,141 tonnes, and an even more eye-catching 12.9% jump in the high grades total to 70,301 tonnes.

The slender decline in November intake contributed to a 3.2% drop in the total for the first 11 months — from 4.297 million tonnes in 2004 to 4.158 million tonnes last year.

Once again, the influence of corrugated and kraft was to the fore, with intake slumping 11.5% to 1.724 million tonnes in January-November 2005.

Compared with the first 11 months of 2004, the other three classes of recovered paper returned higher intake totals in the same period last year. Intake of mixed grades went up by 2.3% to 290,046 tonnes while a cumulative total of 1.423 million tonnes for newspapers and magazines represented an improvement of 3.2%. However, the most pronounced increase was recorded by the high grades: intake advanced by 5.2% from 685,231 tonnes to 720,853 tonnes.

UK mills stocks of recovered paper swung with
pendulum-like regularity during the first 11 months of last year. A 15.7% decline in October was duly followed by a thumping 29.7% increase in November to 105,509 tonnes, despite the fact that the Class I mixed grades inventory tumbled 32.5% to 3,787 tonnes. As a result, mixed grades supply at the prevailing rate of usage dived from one week at the end of October to just 0.6 weeks a month later. Supply had stood at 1.3 weeks at the end of September.

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