Paper and packaging industry: Market for recovered paper in turmoil

1 February 2023

Recovered paper remains the world's most important source for the paper industry, according to the bvse association. Demand was also high in 2022 - and the raw material was traded at a high price.

According to the report, the index of wholesale sales prices for mixed recovered paper calculated by the Federal Statistical Office peaked at 239 in July last year, but then weakened again towards the end of the year. The average index for the year was 170 (2015 = 100). According to the German Association for Secondary Raw Materials and Waste Disposal (Bundesverband Sekundärrohstoffe und Entsorgung, bvse), companies in the recovered paper sector were struggling with "considerable turbulence".

For example, recovered paper processors had to cope with what was literally a "devastating freight situation", as an estimated 100,000 drivers from Ukraine and their trucks were missing at the beginning of 2022 as a result of the Russian war of aggression, which led to a shortage of loading capacities and drastically increased freight costs. For example, about ten per cent of the deliverable waste paper volume could not be transported to the paper mills in June purely for logistical reasons.

Due to concerns about massively rising energy costs and uncertainty about the course of autumn and winter, commercial and private consumption then declined sharply in the second half of the year. This also affected the paper mills, the bvse continues. For the first time in many years, the packaging industry also experienced massive sales problems for its virgin material; as a result, in the course of the fourth quarter of 2022, there were already cuts in recovered paper order quantities in Germany, some of which were considerable. In addition, the domestic purchase of recovered paper continued to decline around the turn of the year due to the economic situation.

Nevertheless, recovered paper remains the most important and, above all, a sustainable source for the paper industry worldwide, says Werner Steingaß, the association's vice president. The trend towards using recovered paper for packaging will continue, while the use of recovered paper for graphic and office applications will decline. On balance, Germany continues to be a net importer of recovered paper.

Source: PBS-Business