Securing A Responsible Material Supply

The pulp and paper industry in Europe is truly European. 82% of our raw materials are sourced in Europe from responsibly managed forests,
using paper collected for recycling and engaging with Europe-based mineral and chemical suppliers.

The use of raw materials in papermaking reflects the increasing rates of paper recycling: the use of wood pulp has decreased in recent years, while the use of paper for recycling has increased to pre-crisis levels. Of the total raw materials consumed by the European paper industry, paper for recycling represented 44.7% and wood pulp 40%; non-fibrous materials made up most of the rest.

More than 90% of the wood used by CEPI members comes from Europe (EU27 or EU28+Norway+Switzerland).
This figure is above 80% for pulp consumption in Europe. This shows the industry’s very significant European base, and contrasts with average import figures for the European manufacturing industry of 70%.





Paper for Recycling

This illustration depicts the European paper recycling loop as a material flow indicating with dotted lines the input of chemicals along the life cycle and mass balance, quantifying input and output to the system in four steps:
paper manufacturing, converting of paper into products, paper consumption and waste management/collection of paper for recycling. Papermaking chemicals are used in a very uniform way throughout European industry, both geographically and across various grades of paper and board. The illustration on the right gives an overview of the complex process of paper recycling and shows the
sheer volumes involved as well as the need for virgin fibres in the process.
Not all paper products can be manufactured using recycled fibre, and the system always requires an injection of fresh fibre. Where appropriate, Europe’s papermakers have invested in technology that can extract valuable fibre from the most challenging sources. Overall, 52.6%of the fibres used in new paper and board products are sourced from the ‘urban forest’ of used paper-products.


Paper recycling is a perfect example for resource efficiency energy production last increases the value by an estimated 97.1 billion euros.The wealth creation in the pulp and paper industry value chain is mainly market driven and 5 times that of the energy alternative.
at its best and the paper industry has both environmental and economic reasons to keep raising the bar. However, some developments may hamper paper recycling in Europe. Firstly, in waste collection, the organic fibres, which paper contains can be contaminated by other materials, if paper is not collected separately. From this perspective, it is essential that the obligation in the 2008 Waste Directive to collect paper and some other materials separately by 2015 in all member states is observed. Likewise, the supply of suitable paper for recycling is threatened by its energy generation potential, particularly if targets for biomass are linked to incineration. In our view, incineration should be the final destination for fibre, once all possibilities for creating value through paper products have been exhausted.
Additionally, it was estimated some years ago that 19% of paper products produced annually are not recyclable or collectable and we believe that this share is much higher now, which is a reason for paper recycling rates to level out soon. CEPI will update this estimate in a new study to
verify whether it has changed in the meantime. CEPI published a leaflet on that topic explaining how promoting the use of wood first as a raw material to make products, encouraging the recycling of used products, and then recovering energy when recycling is no longer
feasible, is far more economical than burning it immediately for renewable energy partly based on subsidies.
An independent study 1 showed that converting wood to energy would create 20.1 billion euros value, while using the same amount of wood as a raw material first and for the same amount of wood as a raw material first and for energy production last increases the value by an estimated 97.1 billion euros. The wealth creation in the pulp and paper industry value chain is mainly market driven and 5 times that of the energy alternative.

The European Paper Recycling Cycle

Paper can be recycled up to six or seven times, in theory. The current average rate in Europe is 3.5, while over 50% of the raw material for Europe’s pulp and paper industry is paper for recycling. Paper cannot be recycled indefinitely as fibres get too short and worn out to be useful in creating a new sheet of paper or cardboard box. The cycle must therefore constantly be refilled with new fibres.
New virgin fibre and recycled fibre are necessary parts of the European paper recycling process.


In Spain Fuenlabrada town council and the Association of Municipalities of the Costa del Sol recently commited to recycling ‘made in Europe’
and pledged that all the paper and board collected in the town will be recycled in Spanish or European paper mills. They demonstrate two examples of aperfect implementation of the Spanish Waste Act, which promotes recycling ‘made in Europe’. This is translation of the original Spanish text in the Spanish waste law: “Producers or other initial holders of recyclable waste materials may give priority to it being treated completely within the European Union in order to avoid the environmental impact of its transport out of the Union, in accordance with the applicable regulations.”

An additional threat to paper recyclers in Europe is the growing export of paper for recycling to Asia. Increased collection rates in Europe are needed to match any rise in exports. The following map shows the extend of the exports. Click for more on Recycling


Wood is the most important raw material in papermaking, and securing a constant and sustainable supply is vital for paper manufacturers in Europe. A few developments in recent years have required CEPI’s attention with regards to the supply of this valuable raw material.

The EU Timber Regulation came into force in March 2013. It requires anyone who supplies or sells timber or processed
timber products for the first time on the EU market to carry out a due diligence check, assess the potential risks related to the products (origin, species, etc.) and, if needed, mitigate the risks. Any subsequent user of the wood or wood products, once it has been placed on the market, must provide basic information on his supplier and his buyer. CEPI created a simple decision tree, that can be followed as a video, to check whether one needs to exercise‘due diligence’ and if so, how to do this. The decision tree brings the issue down to a simple matrix, making it easy for any user of paper or wood products to determine their obligations under the EU Timber Regulation. The EU Timber Regulation Guidance issued by the European Commission currently places an unfair burden on European companies, by confusing the interpretation of the regulation. CEPI is investigating this issue.





Forest Certification Systems

Several systems promote sustainable forestry practices through the certification of forests and the chain of custody. These systems, which are independently audited by third parties, ensure standards are constantly improved and updatedTwo main certification systems were established in the 1990s and operate in Europe. CEPI is a member of both certification schemes and contributes to defining the principles and rules.Both certification schemes also certify products based on recycled fibres. CLICK FOR MORE ON FOREST


In 2005 CEPI introduced a Code of Conduct on Legal Logging, which included six principles. The Code was endorsed by all national associations and its implementation began in 2008. It was decided to stop reporting on the update of this Code of Conduct due to the implementation of the EU Timber Regulation, which overlaps with the Code of Conduct, making it redundant.

Chain-of-Custody systems and other third-party verified tracking systems are increasingly used to demonstrate the legality of purchased wood.

CEPI is a member of the two main timber certification bodies (FSC and PEFC) and reports on certification biennially. The CEPI parameters for certification statistics have been further developed to provide more details in line with the evolution of the certification systems themselves.

Cascading Use of Raw Materials

A recent study using data from FAO and Eurostat shows  how much wood is growing in the EU forests and which fraction of this wood is harvested to be used as a raw material for the production of paper and wood products in Europe. The infographic illustrates the three main uses of wood, which are all interconnected: the pulp and paper chain, the woodworking chain and the energy chain.
It also clearly depicts that already today, the energy use of wood consumes directly a large share of harvested wood, while in the paper industry the recycling loop and the use of residues create more value from the same amount of raw material input. The cascading use of wood
in paper making can be brought down to one figure, it is 2.38 times more resource efficient with 1 m3 of wood than the energy alternative.
This is resource efficiency at its best!

Cascading use of wood
1 m3 wood used for
papermaking is 2.38 times more resource efficient, than simple energy creation.

Minerals and Chemicals

Paper and board consist predominantly of cellulose fibres, naturally-occurring minerals such as calcium carbonate and natural polymers such as starch. The increase in use of non-fibrous raw materials has allowed for a more efficient use of fibres and improved functionalities of finished paper products. The increasing use of calcium carbonate is especially significant:
in 2012 more than half of the non-fibrous material used in the paper industry was calcium carbonate.
Other minerals used in papermaking include talc, kaolin and bentonite.
Chemicals are used in the paper industry at different stages of the pulp- and papermaking process. They can be divided into three main groups: process chemicals, functional chemicals and coating chemicals. Each has a different function and a different influence on the sustainability of the paper product


CALCIUM CARBONATE – This is the most widely used mineral in papermaking. It’s used as a filler and coating pigment and helps produce papers with high whiteness and gloss, and good printing properties.
BENTONITE – This mineral is used in pitch control, i.e. absorption of wood resins that tend to obstruct the machines, to make the conversion of pulp into paper more efficient as well as to improve paper quality.
Bentonite also offers useful de-inking properties for
paper recycling.
TALC – Talc is used with both uncoated and coated rotogravure papers to enhance printability and reduce surface friction, improving productivity at the paper mill and print house. It also improves mattness and reduces ink scuff in offset papers.
Used as a pitch control agent as well, talc “cleans” the papermaking process by adsorbing any sticky resinous particles in the pulp.
KAOLIN –This is used as a filler to bulk up paper and coat its surface. Use of kaolin reduces the amount of wood pulp needed, enhances the optical properties of paper and improves its printing characteristics.

Chemicals are used in the paper industry in different parts of the pulp and paper making process. They can be divided into three main areas: Process Chemicals, Functional Chemicals and Coating Chemicals. These chemicals have different functions and different influence
on the sustainability of the paper product:

CEPI aisbl / Confederation of European Paper Industries
250 Avenue Louise, Box 80, B-1050 Brussels
Tel: +32 2 627 49 11 / Fax: +32 2 646 81 37
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