A reasonably strong finish to 2004 pushed UK recovered paper consumption to 4.625 million tonnes for the year as a whole - some 1.8% ahead of the 4.543m tonnes registered in 2003.
Similarly, a late surge in UK paper and board production nudged the total for last year to 6.241m tonnes, equivalent to 0.3% more than the 6.226m tonnes in the previous year.
Looking first at the end-of-year statistics for recovered paper, a 22.4% increase in consumption of Class III newspapers and magazines last year produced a grand total slightly above 1.5m tonnes, which compared to 1.225m tonnes in 2003.
By contrast, consumption of all four classes of recovered paper showed an improvement in the final month of last year. And somewhat unusually in the context of 2004 recovered paper statistics, the largest increase was reserved for mixed grades rather than for newspapers and magazines. Consumption of the former jumped by 17.5% from 23,690 tonnes in December 2003 to 27,836 tonnes a year later, while the total for the latter advanced by 9.4% from 123,709 tonnes in the final month of 2003 to 135,378 tonnes exactly 12 months down the line. The consumption increases registered by the other two classes were far more conservative, with the corrugated and kraft total rising 2.6% from 158,144 tonnes to 162,281 tonnes and that for high grades edging up 1.8% from 60,265 tonnes to 61,329 tonnes.
Mill intake of newspapers and magazines actually declined in December last year by 3.3% to 115,710 tonnes but jumped by 15.1% or almost 200,000 tonnes for the year as a whole to 1.494m tonnes. Intake of corrugated and kraft also fell in December last year by 6.6% to 173,521 tonnes, whereas mixed grades and high grades both recorded marginal improvements. Intake of the former nudged 0.7% higher from 24,868 tonnes in December 2003 to 25,053 tonnes in the final month of last year, while the latter's total crept up by just 0.3% from 60,865 tonnes to 61,046 tonnes.
For the whole of 2004, intake of mixed grades slid 4.9% lower to 308,457 tonnes while the corrugated and kraft total fell by 4.2% to 2.123m tonnes. In 2004, intake of high grades was a mere 1.2% behind the total for the previous year at 746,277 tonnes. Taking all four classes of recovered paper together, the 2004 mill intake total of 4.672m tonnes was 1.7% ahead of the 4.594m tonnes registered in 2003. However, the December total was 4% lower than that for the correpsonding month of 2003 at 375,330 tonnes.
Three of the four classes of recovered paper suffered a decline in stocks during December. The most significant fall in proportional terms was reserved for newspapers and magazines, for which the total slid 23.9% to 43,617 tonnes and supply from 1.9 to 1.4 days. Stocks of mixed grades slid 2.9% in December to end the year at 5,694 tonnes, although supply maintained its end-November level of 0.9 days. The 1.7% dip in stocks of high grades, meanwhile, gave an end-2004 total of 25,868 tonnes - the equivalent of 1.9 days' supply.
By contrast, corrugated and kraft followed up a stock increase of more than 10% in November with a further rise of 13.2% to 74,332 tonnes the following month. Supply increased from 1.7 days at the prevailing rate of usage to 2.0 days, well ahead of the 1.