Packaging & Speciality Papers

Recycling rate for paper and cardboard rises to record levels

Sappi products play a decisive role in the recycling process.

The recycling rate for paper and cardboard packaging waste now stands at 85.8 percent – in relation to all 28 EU member states. This is evidenced by key figures published by the European Union (EU) in the run-up to the World Recycling Day on 18 March 2019. The recycling rate has not only reached a new record, but also proves in an impressive way, that paper and foldable cardboard packaging continue to play an undisputed pioneering role compared to other packaging materials.


Recycling cycle perfected

Textbild_iStock-932767418The EU defines the “recycling rate” as “the total proportion of packaging waste recycled in relation to the total amount of packaging waste generated” (Article 6 (1) of Directive 94/62/EC). As part of the regularly collected data, the recycling of packaging made of paper/cardboard, glass, plastic, metal, wood and other materials is analysed and compared. Paper/cardboard tops the list of packaging materials, with metal (recycling rate 78.3%) and glass (74.1%) coming in second and third respectively.

The recycling process has been further perfected by the paper and cardboard industry in recent years. For example, tests at the Technical University Darmstadt have recently shown that cardboard packaging can be recycled up to 25 times now. Another reason for the high recycling rate is the exemplary collection infrastructure for used paper and cardboard, as well as the high willingness of consumers to actively participate in the collection of recycling material – consumers, industry and authorities are working together here. Another plus: In contrast to packaging materials made from fossil materials such as plastic, paper and cardboard are inherently renewable.


Virgin fibres are indispensable for recycling

Recycled paper and cardboard material is however, subject to continuing quality degradation in the long-term recycling operation. So a certain amount of virgin fibre has to be regularly fed into the cycle, so that the quality of the recycling substrate is maintained and “recycling collapse” does not occur. The high-quality virgin-fibre substrates from Sappi make a valuable contribution here by maintaining the quality of the recycled substrate. Recycled and virgin fibres are equally indispensable for the high recycling rate of paper and cardboard.