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Feature: Consumption climbs

Latest recovered paper statistics reflect a positive if rather unspectacular start to 2005. According to figures for January, UK consumption was a shade higher than in the same month last year but was still short of the 400,000 tonnes mark. By contrast, UK paper and board production suffered a slight fall in the first month of the year, according to returns collated by The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI).

Recovered paper consumption climbed 2.6% from 384,514 tonnes in January 2004 to 394,506 tonnes 12 months later. Encouragingly, all four classes of recovered paper showed progress with Class III newspapers and magazines leading the way with a 5.8% increase from 123,361 tonnes to 130,541 tonnes. At 27,076 tonnes, consumption of Class I mixed grades was 2.4% higher in January 2004 than the 26,433 tonnes recorded in the first month of last year, while the consumption total of 174,400 tonnes for Class II corrugated and kraft was 1% ahead of the 172,599 tonnes registered in January 2004. In percentage terms, the smallest consumption improvement was reserved for Class IV high grades: the January 2005 total of 62,489 tonnes was a slender 0.6% higher than the 62,121 tonnes posted in the first month of 2004.

As for UK mill intake, however, high grades bucked the general trend in suffering a significant 7.4% decline from 64,862 tonnes to 60,082 tonnes. By contrast, the other three classes of recovered paper recorded intake increases in January this year: mixed grades climbed 9.3% from 26,230 tonnes in January 2004 to 28,660 tonnes this time round; newspapers and magazines rose 8.3% from 121,411 tonnes to 131,537 tonnes; and corrugated and kraft improved by 3% from 171,382 tonnes to 176,483 tonnes.

Overall, UK mill intake of recovered paper was 3.4% higher in the first month of this year at 396,762 tonnes. This compares to 383,885 tonnes in January 2004.

Statistics for the quarter moving to January 2005 reveal both winners and losers in terms of recovered paper consumption and intake. On the plus side, consumption of mixed grades was 6.3% higher than in the previous corresponding period at 81,384 tonnes, while intake gained 5.1% to 80,206 tonnes. Similarly with newspapers and magazines, consumption increased by 14.6% to 395,786 tonnes and intake by exactly 7% to 389,057 tonnes. Over the same comparative periods, however, consumption of corrugated and kraft fell by 2.8% to 501,570 tonnes while intake slid 5.1% to 522,665 tonnes. High grades also recorded declines in both consumption and intake during the quarter to January 2005: the former dipped 2.1% to 183,725 tonnes and the latter fell 2% to 183,372 tonnes.

The first month of this year brought inventory declines — some of them significant — across all four classes of recovered paper, the latest CPI statistics confirm. Most noteworthy in percentage terms was the 16.2% slump in stocks of Class IV high grades to 21,683 tonnes, which knocked supply at the prevailing rate of usage from 1.9 weeks at the very end of 2004 to 1.5 weeks at the close of January. Already thin on the ground, stocks of Class I mixed grades suffered a further decline in January 2005: the 12.6% drop to 4,979 tonnes nudged supply down to 0.8 weeks from 0.9 weeks. Having nose-dived 23.9% in December 2004, stocks of Class III newspapers and magazines took another tumble in the first month of this year, although the fall of 6.9% to 40,594 tonnes left supply unchanged at 1.4 weeks.

The Class II corrugated and kraft inventory also fell in January — by 6.4% to 69,586 tonnes — but the overall picture is slightly different. Un

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