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Europe Aims for 74 Percent Paper Recycling

According to a press release from The European Paper Recycling Council (EPRC), Europe's paper industry is targeting an ambitious new goal: 74 percent paper recycling in the EU by 2020.

The European paper recycling value chain has already made significant strides on the EU's paper recycling rate, having reached a near theoretical maximum of 71.5 percent in 2015. The industry is now seeking to make another move forward with an enhanced rate of 74 percent by 2020, building on the progress achieved since 2000.

"The European paper recycling value chain is willing to go a step further with a new 74 percent target. This elevated rate will play an integral role in boosting the circularity of Europe's economy," says Ulrich Leberle, secretary of the EPRC and raw materials director for CEPI, the Confederation of European Paper Industries.

Further steps will also be made to enhance the quality of paper recycling, with greater emphasis on recyclability in design and manufacturing of paper products and improving techniques for removing ink from paper products.

EPRC is an industry self-initiative set up in November, 2000 to monitor progress towards meeting the paper recycling targets set out in the 2000 European Declaration on Paper Recycling. Since then, the commitments in the Declaration are renewed every five years.

Taking Steps
In order to achieve the 74 percent rate, a number of key conditions must be in place:

  • On waste targets, there should be a landfill ban on recycled paper in place by 2020 and the Waste Hierarchy should be implemented with energy and renewable energy policies taken into full consideration.
  • The EU should ensure that conditions are in place to allow for effective separate collection of paper and take action against countries where commingled collection is practiced.
  • Exports of paper for recycling outside the EU should be curtailed and aligned in a manner such that an increase in the collection of paper is higher than an increase in the net trade of paper for recycling.
  • European and national authorities should avoid conflicting product-related policies that prevent paper being from being recycled.
  • The current practice, in which Member States calculate their recycling rates based on different methods, should cease in favor of an aligned EU-wide method, allowing for comparable and real calculation.

With these conditions in place, the entire value chain can achieve the revised target and move it a step further, making recycling work for an effective European circular economy, according to the press information available at http://www.paperforrecycling.eu/.

The US Is Not Far Behind
The American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA)—which serves to advance a sustainable US pulp, paper, packaging, tissue and wood products manufacturing industry through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy—outlines similar goals for the US industry in itsBetter Practices, Better Planet 2020sustainability initiative. AF&PA member companies, which include the top US paper and packaging manufacturers, are committed to continuous improvement through the initiative.

According to AF&PA, the recovery rate for paper consumed in the US has nearly doubled since 1990, when the association first committed to setting and reaching paper recovery goals. The paper recovery rate remains strong, meeting or exceeding 63 percent each year since 2009, reaching 65.8 percent in 2017.

These annual achievements in paper recovery continue to be above the trend line for member companies to achieve the goal of exceeding 70 percent paper recovery for recycling by 2020.

To support that goal, AF&PA has created a variety of free materials and resources to support paper recycling programs in communities, schools, and businesses. AF&PA's goal is to ensure a continuing, expanding domestic recovered fiber supply to help meet global demand.

The Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability initiative includes one of the most extensive sets of sustainability goals established for a US manufacturing industry. In addition to paper recycling, the initiative focuses on improving energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving worker safety, promoting sustainable forestry, and reducing water use. It is available for free download at https://www.afandpa.org/sustainability.


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