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Paper recycling

Recovered paper forms more than 40% of the raw materials used in paper production in Europe with the packaging sector the biggest consumer. Newsprint, sanitary and household papers, are also largely based on recovered paper. However, printing and writing papers - which represent 40% of total paper and board production - mostly rely on virgin fibres. Levels of paper recycling are increasing at European level, however performance varies greatly from one country to another due to differences in market and industry structures, population density, education, transportation distances, etc.

The European paper industry is fully committed to increasing recycling. It is a matter of finding the optimum level from both an economic and environmental point of view. For this reason, the European paper industry (CEPI) together the European Recovered Paper Association launched the European Declaration on paper recovery with the support of other organisations from the paper chain in November 2000.

New Recovered Paper Grade Standards Adopted & Ratified

The European list of Standard Grades of Recovered Paper and Board EN 643 which is the new version of the European Standard was adopted on 12 December 2001.

The Standard is aimed at industry professionals, organisations and individuals with an interest in the recovered paper sector to assist in the buying and selling of this raw material intended for recycling by the paper and board industry. Furthermore, it will be recommended that the standard is used at all national levels in all official reports and in the day-to-day running of companies. It secures the quality of the recovered paper supply to the paper mills, improves the traceability of the paper industry’s raw materials.

The European Declaration on paper recovery

The aim of the European Declaration is to increase the level of paper recycling in Europe and to further improve the environmental performance of the industry. This self-commitment aims to ensure the optimum management of used paper and board products, improve the quality of recovered paper and to further improve the environmental performance throughout the industry. One of the most significant commitments made is to take necessary measures to ensure that 56% (+/-1.5%) of paper and board products consumed in Europe are recycled by 2005. A European Recovered Paper Council has been established to monitor the evolution of recycling quantitatively and qualitatively in a reliable and transparent way. The first progress meeting showed a 49.8% recycling rate in 2000 which was promisingly 1.1% above the corresponding figure in 1999.

Indispensable, multipurpose and recyclable

Paper has a most remarkable history. It was discovered by the Chinese more than 2000 years ago! For a long time, paper was manufactured from hemp, flax, and then cotton fibre, but the growth in its use led to a search for new raw materials. In 1840, a German named Keller had the idea of pressing wood against a wet grinding stone to extract the fibre. This produced the first wood pulp. Paper technology has made great strides since then, especially in the past 20 years. The five main stages in papermaking, however, remain unchanged.

1- Fibre supply

2- Pulp manufacture

3- Bleaching

4- Sheet forming and drying

5- Finishing

6- Environment

Wood, is a precious resource, is used primarily for the production of lumber. Indeed, paper and board are now increasingly manufactured from sawmill by-products (chips, sawdust and shavings) and recycled paper and board. Roundwood harvested from the forest is now only a secondary source of fibre for the paper industry. When used, logs are debarked upon arrival at the mill. The bark is recovered and used as fuel to produce steam and, sometimes, electricity.

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