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Cepi sees European paper industry delivers on emission reduction and recycling

Europe’s paper industry association Cepi has found that in spite of the pandemic impacting availability and quality of paper for recycling throughout 2020, the European recycling rate increased by 1.4 %, reaching 73.9% in 2020. Looking back at the progress made since 1998 – the base year for the first voluntary commitment set in the European Declaration on Paper Recycling, recycling has now increased by 40% or 16.0 million tonnes.

CO2 direct emissions from the European paper industry declined by 7.1% in 2020. The main reason was deemed the reduced industry activity but also the continuing efforts of the industry to de-carbonise. As a result, the specific CO2 emissions (per tonne of product) further decreased in 2020 by 3.1%. In terms of energy use, 62.2% of the fuel consumption was based renewable energy: woody biomass sourced from sustainably managed European forests.

“I am proud to announce that our investments in reducing emissions and using more renewable energy are paying off, with a 7.1% reduction of our CO2 direct emissions last year. We continue to lead among industries switching to renewable energy, with renewables representing 62.2% of our primary energy in 2020. Our climate commitment is even more important this year, just days ahead of the European Commission’s “Fit for 2030” package. It will radically revamp the regulatory framework to achieve higher emission reductions by 2030”, said Jori Ringman, Cepi director general.

With the slowing down of the European economy and the sanitary restrictions, European paper and board consumption decreased by 5.3% in 2020 compared to 2019, totalling 71 million tonnes. Cepi members produced 85.2 million tonnes of paper and board, a decrease of 4.8% compared to 2019. This downward trend was observed in many other parts of the world, namely the US, Japan, Brazil and Canada.

In 2020, the pandemic accelerated the structural decline of graphic grades but stimulated the production of packaging grades as well as sanitary and household paper. The overall output of graphic grades, including newsprint fell by 19%. Demand from publishers, offices and commercial printing declined dramatically.

In contrast, the packaging paper and board as well as the sanitary and household paper production increased by 2.1% and 3.1% respectively in 2020 while speciality paper and board production remained stable.

Packaging paper and board are essential materials to transport and deliver supplies, such as medicines or food, they also benefitted from the acceleration of e-commerce related to the sanitary crisis. Demand for sanitary and household grades benefitted from higher hygiene requirements, despite the restrictions affecting the ‘away-from-home’ markets, according to Cepi.

Also impacted by the economic slow-down and the decrease in paper and board production, pulp consumption decreased by 6.4%. Total pulp production decreased by 4.7% while market pulp output remained unchanged.

Market pulp exports grew by 2.8% while paper and board exports decreased by 3.1%, a lower extent than production and imports (- 4.5%). Looking at market pulp and paper and board combined, the share of our production going for export has reached a new height: 26% in 2020.



September /October 2021