It is difficult to overemphasise the impact of Class III newspapers and magazines on an overall recovered paper consumption increase of 5.3% or 18,744 tonnes to 375,347 tonnes in February. Compared with the second month of 2003, consumption of newspapers and magazines was 24,264 tonnes or 25.6% higher this year at 119,164 tonnes. Rolling together the figures for the first two months of 2004, Class III consumption was 22.2% higher at 242,525 tonnes.
Consumption of Class IV high grades also increased in February, but by a much more restrained 0.9% to 62,796 tonnes. This was insufficient to offset a fall in January and left the two-month consumption total some 4.5% below that of last year at 124,917 tonnes.
Meanwhile, consumption of Class I mixed grades and Class II corrugated and kraft slipped by 2% and 3.2%, respectively, in February to yield totals for the month of 27,026 and 166,361 tonnes. Viewed from the cumulative JanuaryFebruary perspective, consumption of mixed grades was 0.9% lower this year at 53,459 tonnes, while that of corrugated and kraft showed a far more substantial 10.7% decline to 338,960 tonnes.
When combining all of these totals, it emerges that UK recovered paper consumption was 0.4% lower in the first two months of this year at 759,861 tonnes when compared with the corresponding period for 2003. As for mill intake, the combined total for the first two months of 2004 was 1.3% below the comparative figure for last year at 749,783 tonnes despite a 6.4% jump in February to 365,898 tonnes.
Compared with last year, intake of Class III jumped 16.1% in February to 110,083 tonnes, while the Class IV total advanced by 3.9% to 64,053 tonnes. Combining the first two months of the year, intake of the former rose by 9.8% to 231,494 tonnes, while the two-month total for the latter 128,915 tonnes reflected an increase of 1.8% over the corresponding period of 2003.
A slightly different picture emerged elsewhere. Mill intake of Class I climbed 2.6% in February to 24,987 tonnes while the Class II total edged 2.2% higher to 166,775 tonnes. Taking the first two months of the year together, however, the 2003 totals were higher in both cases: intake of mixed grades was down 3.1% in JanuaryFebruary 2004 at 51,217 tonnes, while the corrugated and kraft figure was a full 8.5% lower at 338,157 tonnes.
Stocks of newspapers and magazines held by UK mills took another significant tumble in February after dropping by 17.2% in January. The 13% slide from 53,216 tonnes to 46,320 tonnes knocked supply down from 1.9 weeks to 1.6 weeks at the prevailing rate of usage both figures being well short of the 2.3 weeks supply registered at the end of last year. Mixed grades followed up a 4.5% stock decline in January with a thumping 30.6% drop in February to 3,851 tonnes, sending supply plummeting from 0.9 to 0.6 weeks, having ended 2003 on 1.1 weeks.
The other two classes of recovered paper recorded relatively small stock increases during February although these did not produce any improvement in the supply situation at the prevailing rate of usage: the corrugated and kraft inventory gained 0.6% in February to reach 68,098 tonnes, but supply slipped from 1.7 to 1.6 weeks; and supply of the high grades dipped from 2.0 weeks to 1.8 weeks despite a 3.3% increase in stock levels during the month to 29,028 tonnes.
Having ended 2003 on 167,315 tonnes, total mill stocks of recovered paper had fallen to 154,556 tonnes by the end of January and by a further 4.7% to 147,297 tonnes one month later. While supply averaged exactly 2.0 weeks at the end of December, the figure had fallen to 1.8 weeks by late J