Updated standards for the buying and selling of paper across Europe have been generally welcomed by the Recycling Association (RA), but it has called for efforts from along the supply chain to maximise quality and has challenged guidance on moisture content.
The revised guidelines on paper for recycling, part of the European Standard EN 643, have been published by the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI).
EN643 is the basic document used by industry professionals in trading paper for recycling and was last revised in 2013. It defines what the different grades of paper for recycling may contain as well as defining prohibited and unwanted materials and specifies moisture content.
RA chief executive Simon Ellin praised CEPI for seeking to improve inspection procedure at mills, and its focus on bale condition and unwanted materials.
But he insisted that mills had to be aware that the supply chain did not always provide the highest quality material.
“Our members work with suppliers who provide bales that are of excellent quality and are welcomed by them, but there are also a significant number of companies and organisations that are trading material that is poor and in some cases illegal.
“The RA is committed to improving quality, and wants to see the UK’s environment agencies focus on illegal exporters which deliberately flout the system, while we also need to work with local authorities and other suppliers to bring overall quality up.”
Ellin also took issue with CEPI over moisture content. The EN 643 Standard says: “Paper for recycling and board will, in principle, be supplied with moisture of not more than the naturally occurring level of 10%. Where the moisture content is higher than 10% (of air dried weight), the additional weight in excess of 10% may be claimed back – with the method of testing and sampling to be agreed between buyer and seller.”
CEPI says that, for bales with more than 10% moisture, the buyer and seller should agree a maximum tolerance and the buyer should reject bales that exceed this agreement.
Ellin said: “First, the generally accepted moisture tolerance that is applied for material from the UK is 12% and not 10% – this includes a small margin for error. Second, buyers for UK material recognise that, particularly in winter months, material may exceed ideal moisture limits.
“If you impose strict limits on maximum moisture levels, it may well prevent material leaving these shores as suppliers will not want to risk massive demurrage charges from Europe or Asia. This will have the effect of forcing down UK prices.
“Moisture is not illegal as long as it does not prohibit a product’s recyclability. Any subsequent commercial decision is then between the buyer and the seller. If the buyer doesn’t like it, they don’t buy it,” Ellin added.