Recycling and consumption of paper and cardboard dropped in Europe in 2022 CEPI data shows

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CEPI data for 2022 has demonstrated that both recycling and consumption of paper and cardboard were down last year.

Consumption of paper and board dropped by 3.5% over the year compared to 2021, with much of the decline coming at the end of 2022. This was explained by CEPI as due to high energy and raw material prices with the Eurozone also entering a recession as a result.

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European production was down 6.1% compared to 2021.

Paper for recycling utilisation in Europe decreased by 6.4% in 2022, again blamed on high electricity and gas prices, that also affected paper recycling mills.

CEPI director general Jori Ringman said: “Current economic conditions mean that the cost of the projects in which pulp and paper companies are already engaged have increased, while regulatory predictability has decreased.

“Our ambition as an industry has not, and we will continue to propose affordable and scalable solutions for the EU’s transition towards a circular bioeconomy.”

Out of a total of 85 million tonnes of paper used for recycling in the 18 CEPI member nations, that includes the UK, 51.1 million was used for packaging paper and board with a 73.9% utilisation rate. A further 22 million was graphic papers (26.3% utilisation rate) and 7.9 million was sanitary and household and 3.9 million other paper and board.

The overall recycling rate for paper and board fell in 2022 to 70.5% from 72.8% in 2021.

Table from CEPI

In terms of exports of paper for recycling, these increased by 3.9% in 2022 to a total of 7.15 million tonnes compared to 6.88 million in 2021. Of this, 5.57 million tonnes went to Asia up 5.2% on 2021 when 5.3 million tonnes went there. A further 1.46 million tonnes went to other European destinations that are not CEPI member states in 2022.

Chart from CEPI