Figures released by the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) have shown that the UK paper recycling rate grew to 78.7 per cent in 2011.
This was up from the 75.1 per cent reported in 2010 and means that the UK surpasses the target set in the revised European Declaration on Paper Recycling (2011 to 2015) to maintain current high levels in countries where it already reached levels above 70 per cent.
However, the CPI noted that the rise in the recycling rate could be attributed more to a decrease in paper consumption than a significant increase in the amount of paper collected for recycling.
CPI recovered paper sector manager Stuart Pohler said: “While the increase in the recycling rate is welcomed in principle, it is important to qualify the apparent performance improvement. UK collection of used recovered paper in 2011 was just over 8 million tonnes – an increase of 0.4 per cent on 2010 – whereas consumption of paper and board products which entered the UK waste stream reduced by 4.2 per cent compared to 2010.
“With lower volumes available for collection, and only a modest increase in tonnage collected for recycling from existing sources, ensuring recycling performance is maintained in future will mean additional sources will be required. This will have a significant knock-on effect for cost and quality control for collectors, and may become increasingly difficult if demand from global paper mills falls; further suppressing collectors income.”