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EU paper recyclers ‘in crisis’ as China waste import ban bites

Aug 28, 2019 | News

(28 August 2019) – China’s ban on waste imports has thrown Europe’s paper recycling sector has lead to a chronic oversupply of recovered paper that sent prices plummeting by 300% over the past two years.

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In July 2017, China notified the WTO that it will ban imports of 24 categories of waste as of January 2018, including plastics and mixed papers, and plans a total phase-out of waste imports by 2019, citing environmental concerns.

In 2018, Europe collected on average 56.5 million tons of recovered paper, using around 48.5 million tons for its own production, according to the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC). That leaves a gap between supply and demand of more than 8 million tons for recovered paper in Europe, it said in a statement released on Monday (26 August).

According to the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI), several recycling facilities representing investments worth at least half a billion euros each are currently in the pipeline, totalling more than five million tonnes of capacity. However, the market is likely to remain oversupplied until then. “This paper will eventually be absorbed in Europe,” said Ulrich Leberle (CEPI).

“And concerning the quality requirements, it’s a positive signal to provide European industry with well-collected paper rather than exporting mixed waste to China, which in any case ends being landfilled because it cannot be used by the Chinese industry either.” (EurActiv)

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