The life cycle of a paper product is composed of a series of value adding steps, from its extraction from natural, renewable resources until the end of its life.
In the Circular Economy, the end of the paper product’s life is reconnected with its production by reusing the already extracted resources which are contained in used products through recycling
Moreover, promoting the use of the cascading principle where wood is first used as a raw material to make products, and where recycling is encouraged before the raw material is used for energy (and only when recycling is no longer feasible), is far more economical than burning it immediately for renewable energy.
Paper recycling in Europe reached the record level of 72.0% in 2019, keeping fibres in the loop longer and extending the benefits of their renewable origin. Our industry is now seeking to make another leap forward by reaching the elevated rate of 74% by 2020. When it comes to paper packaging alone, 83.5% is recycled in 2018 , making paper the most recycled packaging material in Europe.
In some regions, recycling rates can reach up to 80%, which is probably the maximum rate from a practical perspective.
Paper is recycled on average, more than 3.5 times a year in Europe, and almost 50% of the raw material we use consists of paper for recycling.
Some paper products cannot be recovered for recycling because they are kept for long periods of time (books) or archived (records); others are destroyed or contaminated when used (e.g. tissue and hygiene paper).
Paper cannot be recycled indefinitely as fibres get too short and worn out and therefore can no longer be used in creating new paper. Hence, virgin fibres from trees are needed to continue the cycle. These new fibres come from renewable, sustainably-managed forests and continue the loop.
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