European recycling rate reaches 73.9% in 2020

The European paper value chain reached the trajectory set back in 2016, with 73.9% of all paper consumed in Europe being recycled in 2020.

Compared to 2019, 2020 brought another strong increase and if you look back 20 years ago, paper recycling even increased by 40%.

Due to the COVID-19, less paper and board was consumed and available for collection last year, while its utilisation in the European paper industry continued to be steady. The pandemic demonstrated the importance of continued collection to maintain circular economy models such as paper recycling. This importance was illustrated by the crucial role of paper collection for the production of packaging and hygiene products in the first half of 2020.

Overall, collection of paper and board for recycling reached 56m tonnes, while the consumption of paper and board decreased to 75.8m tonnes in the EU27, Norway Switzerland and the United Kingdom. This explains a further increase of the recycling rate.

Annick Carpentier, Director General of ACE and EPRC Chairwoman stated, “Reaching our set 74% paper recycling target shows the paper and board value chain is serious about its understanding as a role model for circularity and will continue to be.”

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