The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) has released a position paper which reaffirms the UK’s Paper-based Industries’ position that the End of Waste (EoW) for paper and board occurs at the point of actual recycling (the pulping stage).
This position is aligned with the views of the Cepi representing thousands of companies across the EU. There are a number of clear reasons why the industry believes that EoW occurs at the point of recycling including the impact on quality of the material and the economic impact.
Paper for Recycling (PfR) is a valuable resource, an integral part of the circular bio-economy, and a major contributor towards a resource-efficient society. Indeed, the recycling rate for paper and card was almost 70% in 2022, and paper for recycling was the most important raw material for the UK Paper and Board Industry, with around 80% of all paper products made in the UK utilising recovered paper. These achievements have been built on strong foundations and the strenuous efforts of the UK’s Paper-based Industries.
PfR collected under the current UK collection systems continues to be a mixed material stream even after sorting. The quality criteria and standards set by the Paper Industry enhance the value of the material and ensure it is recycled and turned into a valuable resource.
The single biggest step that could be taken to improve the quality and increase the quantity of PfR is for Government to progress legislative reforms which ensure paper and board is collected separately from other recyclable materials.
Changing the EoW to prior to pulping would have an adverse effect on the competitiveness of the UK market. It would lead to the creation of a two-tier quality system in the UK. High quality material would be selected preferentially for export, leaving the lower-quality streams that do not comply with waste export legislation or meet EoW criteria for the domestic market. The only alternative for the UK paper mills would be to pay higher prices to secure the material otherwise ear-marked for export.
This would not only have a negative economic impact on the UK and lead to further decline in UK papermaking and efforts to support the investment required in the UK recycling of paper would be compromised. This could also lead to massive disposal costs.
Andrew Large, Director General, CPI, states, “The industry firmly believes that there needs to be an improvement in the quality of PfR in the UK, and that this should be achieved by legislative and policy reforms ensuring that the existing standards are consistently met. This would not be achieved by moving the End of Waste point.”