The amount of recovered paper sent abroad for recycling has rocketed over the past five years, according to figures released this week by the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI).
The industry body's Annual Review said the UK had a "critical reliance on export markets for collection growth and Government target achievement".
In 1999, 443,000 tonnes of recyclable paper were being exported.
Almost two thirds of this goes to Asia, with China receiving 724,360 tonnes of the UK's recovered paper in 2004.
CPI director of external affairs Kathy Bradley said that Asia's massive appetite was due to countries like China, India and Indonesia building new machines to reprocess the paper, but as yet not having the collection infrastructure to feed the machines.
She added: "We are being driven by Government targets in the UK, which means the collection rate for recovered paper has risen year on year.
"The UK mills are getting what they need and then the rest is going abroad."
An industry facts pamphlet accompanying the review revealed that the proportion of recycled paper used by UK mills has jumped from 57% to 68% over the past ten years.
However, despite this rise, the actual volume of recycled material used has fallen from 4.9 million tonnes in 2000 to 4.6 million in 2004.