Cellulose fibre from wood is the essential raw material for papermaking. Using recovered paper for new paper products extends the life cycle of the wood fibre. Around 60 million tonnes of used paper are collected in Europe each year. The collection rate is constantly increasing, and has annually exceeded 60% of paper consumed since 2005 to reach over 70% in 2009.
Recycled paper is a type of paper that completely or partially consists of recycled fibres. These fibres can have very different origins and also very different characteristics when it comes to being a component in new paper or board.
The papermaker's selection of the raw material source depends on the availability of fresh fibres or recovered paper. In countries with a low population density and sustainable forest resources, paper is produced predominantly from virgin fibres. In countries with a dense population and therefore the availability of used paper, the paper industry depends mostly on the 'urban forest' for recovered paper.
Paper industry committed to recycling
The European paper and board industry is committed to reaching higher levels of recycling – the target of 66% of paper by 2010 has already been met, and a new target will be set for 2015.
Modern recycling processes require less energy and the secondary materials involved are environmentally compatible. The contraries (the pins, staples, inks, adhesives etc.) removed during the recycling process which may be burned for energy recovery or used for other industrial purposes; they can be used as raw materials for the paper industry or other industries in line with industrial ecology.