European paper recycling value chain meeets its set target and reaches 73.9% paper recycling rate in 2020
Since 2000, the European paper value chain has been committed to the two-fold aim of improving recycling and increasing efforts to remove obstacles hampering paper recycling in Europe. In 2016, the signatories of the European Declaration on Paper Recycling declared their commitment to reach a 74% paper recycling rate by 2020.
In 2020, 73.9% of all paper and board consumed in Europe was recycled. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, among other factors, less paper and board was consumed and collected for recycling. The collection of paper for recycling decreased by 2.6% compared to 2019 and reached 56 million tonnes. Paper and board consumption decreased more heavily compared to 2019 and reached 75.8 million tonnes. The recycling rate therefore increased from 72.5% in 2019 to 73.9% in 2020. In absolute figures, compared to the base year of the Declaration (2015), the amount of paper and board collected and recycled decreased by 3.1 million tonnes.
In Europe, the paper industry was constant in its use of paper for recycling. The drop in collection can be explained by interruptions in collection especially in the early phase of the Covid-19 crisis, as well as by a further decrease in Chinese demand for paper for recycling, which was not offset by the increased demand from other countries.
The structural change in paper consumption patterns continued in 2020; decline in the consumption of newsprint and graphic papers accelerated in 2020 at a rate of -17.8% while consumption of case materials, the other most recycled paper product, increased by 1.0%.
For the commitment period of 2016-2020 the recycling rate calculations were independently verified by Deloitte.