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Wood, Paper, Printing

Environmental issues - Recovered paper and wood

With increased pressure on primary raw materials, the use of recovered raw materials is continuously on the rise. More efficient collection, promoted by public authorities, will also strengthen the development of more economically efficient and environmentally-friendly activities and contribute to strengthening EU competitiveness in this field.

Recovered paper

Today, about half of EU paper production is based on recovered paper, a growth of 25% since 1998. Europe has become a world leader in this field, the EU's recycling rate being well above average world levels. Paper recovery and recycling, linked to the increased efficiency of processing, have allowed a substantial increase in production without the need to use more new wood.

Currently, about half of EU paper production is based on recovered paper. Recovered paper is increasingly being used for environmental reasons, since it is subject to several pieces of EU legislation (i.e. the Waste Framework Directive and the Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste) and is a response to growing public concerns in the area. For many grades of paper there are complementarities between primary or virgin fibre and secondary or recovered fibre, whilst some may be 100% of one or the other, depending on technical requirements.

Directive 2008/98/EC on waste obliges Member States to set up a separate collection for paper and establishes a target to reuse or recycle paper and other materials from households at a minimum of 50% by weight by 2020. It also states that certain waste, under specific conditions, can no longer be considered as such. Recovered paper has been included among the selected waste streams, for which criteria are to be developed.

A partnership of paper manufacturing, converting and recycling industries, publishers, printers and makers of inks and glues aims to further increase the paper recycling rate and improve the quality and recyclability of recovered paper. The Second European Declaration on Paper Recycling 2006-12 aims to achieve a 66% recycling rate (use of recovered paper plus net trade as a percentage of paper production) by 2012.

Recovered wood

Many wood panels, in particular particleboard, can be made from recovered wood. However, wood is not recovered as much as paper, due to its longer-term use and the fact it is disposed of more diffusely than the latter.

To increase the recovery level of wood products, it is important to identify solutions to improve collection procedures and stimulate recovery among consumers and producers.

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