by Massimo Medugno, Assocarta General Manager
The paper industry is in many ways a business model of sustainability: it turns over 80 billion euros a year and 18 billion euros in value and wealth creation. Around 1.8 million jobs depend directly and indirectly on the industry, 63% of which are in rural areas.
The value of paper, in its many forms, is at the core of society’s needs.
The paper industry is an example to others in its responses to current challenges. It practices sustainable forest management, pursues security of energy supply through renewable energy, and optimizes resources through the highest recycling rates.
Papermaking is an industry «made in Europe» unlike any other, especially when comparing with other «raw material intensive» industries. 80% of pulp, 90% of wood and even 100% of paper-for-recycling used in the European paper industry come from within the EU. EU policies on resource efficiency should contribute to keeping such local supply chains. The efficient use of resources in the paper industry does also mean that the whole European value chain through printing and converting to the end-user has benefits from it.
In September 2011 the European Commission presented a communication on the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe which aims to foster resource efficient and sustainable growth. The European Roadmap mentions the circular economy as a way to achieve these aims.
Recycling all kinds of waste materials (paper, glass, metal…) and turning them into new products manufactured by the European industry leads to the creation of a circular economy, which in turn builds up a larger industrial sector and creates wealth and employment precisely where the efforts and investments have been made to set up efficient waste collection systems. Furthermore, it guarantees that all recycling will be carried out in accordance with stringent EU environmental requirements.
By developing a European Recycling Society the EU estimates that over 400,000 jobs could be created in Europe between now and 2020.
The good reasons for promoting recycling within the European Union are: support for the European recycling industry; the creation of green employment in Europe; reduction of emissions associated with transport of waste; compliance of recycling with the European environmental requirements; the creation of wealth in those areas where the efforts and investments have been made to improve waste collection; greater transparency and control over the recycling process, which in turn leads to enhanced consumer confidence.
These reasons are fundamental for the paper industry, in fact the paper recycling rate in Europe reached 70,4% in 2011.
The total amount of paper collected and recycled in the paper sector has increased by 18 million tons since 1998 and now reaches 60 million tons per year.
The European Paper Industry is a champion in recycling: it lives the circular economy!