1 July 2022. Representatives of the European paper value chain have pledged to recycle 76% of all paper consumed by 2030. The new, ambitious recycling rate of 76%, calculated by dividing the recycling of used paper by the total paper and board consumption, should be reached by the year 2030. It represents a best-in-class performance both at global level and across material industries, as paper and board is the most recycled material in Europe.

The commitment is laid out in the new European Declaration on Paper Recycling 2021-2030. The document sets out measures to optimise the management of paper at every step of a continuous recycling loop. This entails a variety of operations, from paper and board manufacturing, its conversion into products and prints, through to its collection, sorting, and recycling. Each step in the process is a distinct industrial sector with only some degree of horizontal integration, making cooperation a must to reach the ambitious recycling target.

The industries co-signing the declaration state however that several enabling conditions from EU and local authorities need to be met. Including to limit the use of paper waste for energy recovery purposes and to ensure that paper is separately collected to preserve the quality of the material.

Separate paper collection is also a prerequisite for higher levels of recycling and needs to be further promoted. However, the paper value chain is also pushing boundaries for what additional products could be recycled, and how to access paper waste which is not finding its way to separate collection.