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Feature: Consumption rises by double digits

Double-digit percentage increases in consumption were recorded by all but one class of recovered paper in April this year. There was even a slender upturn in UK paper and board production at the start of the second quarter although, after four months, the running total for 2005 was lower than that of last year.

The largest proportional jump in consumption was recorded by the Class I mixed grades: UK mills consumed some 28,850 tonnes in April this year, 17.3% more than in the corresponding month of 2004. Not far behind was Class III newspapers and magazines, consumption of which climbed 14% from 114,229 tonnes in April 2004 to 130,209 tonnes in the fourth month of the current year. At the same time, consumption of the Class IV high grades was gaining 12.6% to 63,749 tonnes.

Class II corrugated and kraft was alone in bucking this upward trend, with consumption dipping 3.9% from 190,545 tonnes to 183,150 tonnes. But taking all the classes together, UK mill consumption of recovered paper increased by 5.2% to 405,958 tonnes in April this year - almost 20,000 tonnes up on the same month last year.

This performance had a marked impact on the cumulative totals for the first third of the year. Consumption of higher grades was 7.8% higher in January-April 2005 at 258,232 tonnes, while the mixed grades total was up 6.9% at 108,266 tonnes.

A 6.2% increase in consumption of newspapers and magazines during the first four months of this year pushed the cumulative total from 477,500 tonnes to 507,164 tonnes.

Once again, corrugated and kraft provided a contrast: consumption fell by more than 20,000 tonnes - or 2.9% - to 677,662 tonnes in January-April this year.

Combining all these statistics reveals that UK recovered paper consumption was actually 2.3% higher in the first four months of this year at 1.551 million tonnes.

In the corresponding period last year, the total was 1.516 million tonnes.

With one exception, mill intakes were relatively unchanged in April 2005. Corrugated and kraft intake slipped 1.1% lower to 180,956 tonnes, while newspapers and magazines dipped 1.3% to 123,661 tonnes. Intake of the high grades jumped 2.4% to 63,611 tonnes but this increase was eclipsed by the mixed grades, intake of which surged 13.8% from 25,379 tonnes in April 2004 to 28,878 tonnes in the same month this year.

Cumulative intake totals reveal that, once again, only corrugated and kraft was failing to better its 2004 performance after the first four months of this year: the January-April 2005 total of 668,290 tonnes was a full 3.4% below the 691,630 tonnes recorded at the same juncture last year.

The following intake increases were recorded by the other classes: mixed grades up 7.3% to 109,163 tonnes; high grades up 4.7% to 262,934 tonnes; and newspapers and magazines up 4.2% to 508,149 tonnes.

Overall, UK mill intake of recovered paper edged just 0.4% higher in April to 397,106 tonnes. Taking the first four months of the year as a whole, intake in 2005 was 1.1% higher than in 2004 at 1.549 million tonnes.

After gaining 12.7% in March, mill stocks of Class I mixed grades began the second quarter by slumping 23.4% to 4169 tonnes, thereby reducing supply at the prevailing rate of usage from 0.9 to 0.6 weeks.

Class III newspapers and magazines also sustained a hefty 8.1% fall in inventories to 42,758 tonnes; compared with the end of the previous month, supply was down from 1.7 to 1.4 weeks. A similar decline in supply was re-corded by Class II corrugated and kraft after stocks followed up a 3.4% drop in March, with a further 3% slid

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