European paper recycling rates on the decline, according to DS Smith 

paper recycling

A report from DS Smith has revealed that around 44% of European paper and cardboard packaging could go to landfill by 2030 unless recycling rates are improved. 

Currently, 82% of paper and cardboard is recycled in the EU, and DS Smith argues that this could reach 90% by 2030 if the right policies on collection are implemented.  


However, based on current trends of recycling rates falling since 2016, DS Smith is forecasting a 77% recycling rate in 2030. 

While the UK is the third largest producer of paper and cardboard waste in Europe, the UK is ranked 25th out of European nations for recycling and is on course to miss its targets by up to 13 years.   

The company has made four recommendations to achieve a 90% recycling rate across Europe by 2030. These are: 

  • Source segregated collections 
  • Consistent collections across each country 
  • Clarity on why, how and what to recycle 
  • Legislation that is long-lasting and consistent.  

DS Smith strategy, development and innovation director, John Melia said: “Given the scale of the environmental and economic opportunity, the Government’s proposals are a step in the wrong direction and will do nothing to improve already record-low recycling rates. 

“To revitalise recycling, we should learn from the proven, effective approaches of other UK and European nations who are reaping the benefits of well-structured recycling systems.” 

SUEZ former group vice president recycling and recovery Northern Europe, David Palmer-Jones OBE said: “We need clarity of what’s going to happen in the future in good time, with the certainty that whatever legislation comes in isn’t going to be ripped up by the next government.  

“In the UK, there is such a short political mandate that there isn’t long-term visibility over the infrastructure needed, which harms the progress of the system. Some Scandinavian countries depoliticise these decisions and are particularly good at enabling long-term change.”