The UK paper recycling rate rose to 78% last year, according to industry figures.
The Confederation of Paper Industries’ annual review said the overall amount of paper and board collected for recycling rose very slightly to 8.0m tonnes in 2011. This came as consumption of paper and board dropped by 4.2% to 10.21m tonnes.
A fall in the amount of newspapers, magazines and mixed grades recovered was offset by bigger hauls of higher grades of paper, corrugated and kraft.
Exports of paper and board rose 6.1% last year, with just over half of the paper and board collected in the UK going abroad for recycling. More than three-quarters of this went to the Far East, of which almost two thirds was to China.
However, the report said that UK exports could be put a risk as China introduced higher domestic recycling targets.
Declining access to materials suitable for recycling was a key issue for the UK paper sector, the trade body warned. Imports of recovered paper were up 40% last year, forcing many paper producers to diversify into recovery and processing of raw materials.
The CPI said it would lobby the Government and other agencies to improve the quality of recovered paper.
The review also highlighted lobbying work over the Renewables Obligation and carbon reduction.
CPI said 2011 was a “solid year for papermakers”, as the first year since 1997 with no mill closures.
It noted that the fall in consumption was despite a “booming tissue sector”.
CPI president Bob McLellan highlighted significant investment being made by the industry.