Paper waste goes up in smoke

The paper industry has expressed disappointment over the European Commission’s recent mandate on solid recovered fuels, which it says will promote the burning of paper that would otherwise be recycled. The industry is calling for the definition of recovered paper to be changed from waste to secondary raw material to boost recycling rates.

The EU mandate sets targets for the burning of recovered solid waste, effectively encouraging the use of waste as fuel, a strategy in line with the EU’s goal to promote renewable energy. But the decision of whether to recycle or recover the energy from paper waste remains confused by the ongoing vagueness of the definition of waste (see related story), says the Confederation of European Paper Industries.

Because the EU’s broad legal definition of waste includes recovered paper, which would normally be recycled, recovered paper now falls under the category of solid recovered fuels, and will be more likely to be burnt, says CEPI. Recovered paper should be defined as a secondary raw material, rather than waste, in order to safeguard the positive trend in paper recycling, urges CEPI.

A voluntary European target of a 56% recycling rate has been set for 2005. The industry already recycles 42 million tonnes of recovered paper, representing a recycling rate of 52%. Recycling another 10 million tonnes would meet the 2005 target.

Paper recycling is a perfect example of the paper industry’s sustainable use of resources, says CEPI, where recovered paper has become a major raw material representing 42% of the total volume of raw materials used by the European paper industry last year.

Michael Gröller, CEPI’s Chairman, has sent a letter to the European Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström requesting the exclusion of recovered paper and board suitable for recycling from the solid recovered fuels guidelines.

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