EPRC does not expect another covid-19 related recovered paper shortage

Recovered paper suppliers had to cope with
both oversupply and shortages this year
15 Oct 2020 − 

This year has been characterised by extreme price volatility on the recovered paper (RCP) market. Experts speaking at online events organised by BIR and the EPRC believe that the market will stabilise again in 2021. In the long term, however, new outlets for European RCP have to be found.

Last spring, paper mills in Europe experienced a sudden price surge never seen before for their raw material, with recovered paper prices sometimes jumping by up to 100 € in just a few weeks, depending on the country.

It was a short-lived upswing, caused mainly by the covid-19 related lockdowns, which had curbed production and waste arisings. In some countries, collection activity was also reduced. This created a shortage in recovered paper supply that was responsible for the price jumps.

In its webinar on 9 October on the challenges facing the industry, the European Paper Recycling Council (EPRC) said it did not expect this situation to recur, even if new lockdown measures should be implemented. "We do not believe we will have such problems again," EPRC secretary Ulrich Leberle said, referring to a possible recovered paper shortage. Collection centres had not been prepared at the time, the situation being a completely new phenomenon, and operators had preferred to interrupt operations rather than taking the risk of infections, he explained.

Panel experts at the online World Recycling Convention organised by the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) last week also reported that they expected the market to stabilise again in 2021 after the turmoil caused by the pandemic this year.

China used to buy 65 per cent of European recovered paper

In the long run, some market experts are rather worried about an oversupply on the European recovered paper markets. China has drastically reduced its recovered paper imports over the last years and will stop them completely by the year's end. The EPRC noted that while the country made up for 65 per cent of all European recovered paper exports in the first half of 2017, this year the share was only 5 per cent.

This article is an excerpt from our article on the EPRC and BIR webinars and the developments on the European recovered paper markets.

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