The Paper value chain reached a 71.4% recycling rate in 2021

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A new report shows the progress made by the European paper value chain towards recycling
objectives, which are some of the most ambitious in the world. It also highlights the activities which
have allowed for it to stay on track.

By committing earlier this year to recycle 76% of all paper consumed by 2030, the European paper
value chain renewed its pledge to contribute to the EU’s transformation towards a new model of
circular economy. The 2021 Monitoring Report, released today, marks the first report monitoring
the paper value chain’s recycling commitment under the new European Declaration on Paper
Recycling 2021-2030. The report will be later published on a yearly basis to monitor progress
towards this new commitment.

In 2021, 71.4% of all paper and board consumed in Europe was recycled. Both consumption of
new paper and board and collection of Paper for Recycling (PfR) have increased. In a year-to-year
comparison, the total amount of paper and board collected and recycled in the paper sector in 2021
increased by 2%, up to 57.1 million tonnes. This in part thanks to important new investments in paper
recycling capacities in Europe.

Since 2000, the European paper value chain has been committed to improving the process and
quality of recycling and to overcoming obstacles to paper recycling in Europe. To that end, the paper
value chain has undertaken various initiatives facilitating the recycling process and increasing
recycling rates.

Some of the activities undertaken by the paper value chain include the publication of collection and
sorting guidelines and a roadmap to further increase the sustainability of packaging. Most important
is also the value chain’s commitment to collection targets, including projects assessing the quality
of Paper for Recycling, and its collaboration with CEN, the European Committee for Standardisation,
on technical specifications.

Also essential were initiatives to make paper-based products recyclable by design, including the
publication of a Circularity by Design Guideline for fibre-based packaging, as well as information
campaigns organised to support awareness and exchange best practices on recycling technologies
within the industry.

Download the European Paper Recycling Council 2021 Monitoring Report.

“Through our extensive monitoring, the industry, policymakers and all interested
parties are informed regularly and transparently about the progresses in paper
recycling made by the value chain, and what it undertakes to reach its targets.”

Annick Carpentier – Chair EPRC (European Paper Recycling Council)