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UK could face paper problem

The UK continues to recover more paper, but with mills closing, the country could be faced with an acute problem.

Government legislative drivers including the Landfill Directive, Statutory Local Authority Performance Standards and Producer Responsibility Obligations have all led to increased recovery at a time when UK mills are struggling to remain competitive in a global market.

The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) recovered paper section body manager Peter Seggie said: “Investment in UK manufacturing is declining, so it is crucial for industry that such ravenous export markets have emerged.

Problems caused by excess recovered paper on the market, such as landfilling significant quantities of material are avoided.

“Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that any global economic slowdown may give the UK some serious problems in this regard for the medium to longer term.”

Exports rose from 2.6 million tonnes in 2004 (36% of total collected tonnage) to 3.3 million tonnes in 2005 (42%). This represents a staggering 577% change since 2000 and by current trends, export may well overtake UK usage during 2006.

Data collected by CPI and HM Revenue and Customs shows that around 7.7 million tonnes of paper was recovered in the UK during 2005, an 8% increase, reflecting a growing global demand for recovered paper as a raw material.

But of this, just over 4.5 million tonnes was reprocessed in the UK, with the remainder exported for reprocessing overseas. This represents a drop in UK usage of over 0.1 million tonnes, demonstrating the difficulties UK re-processors are experiencing following a number of mill closures.

Industry hopes that the wealth of material available from the UK waste stream will act as an incentive for investors when considering the UK as an option for investment.

But CPI will continue to work with Government and stakeholders in dealing with issues that may affect the UK and export markets.

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