The European paper industry and the circular bioeconomy strategy


di Massimo Medugno, general manager Assocarta

The European paper sector has a long expertise in bioeconomy and has a significant role in providing solutions to many global challenges such as climate change, urbanization and ageing with using sustainable renewable materials.

The paper industry also offers easily recyclable solutions and answers to EU Circular Economy, Strategy on plastics in the circular economy and the UN Paris Agreement. This sector operates in a circular way and resource efficiency is at the core of our operations. The growth volume of forests in Europe exceeds their use. Ensuring the growth of forests and their sustainable use is an important part of sustainable bioeconomy.

In its “2050 Roadmap to a low-carbon bioeconomy”, CEPI foresees that a growing part of the value added generated by the pulp and paper industry in Europe will come from breakthrough technologies and from the provision of a wider range of bio-based products, beyond pulp and paper. These products will contribute simultaneously to:

· a massive reduction of greenhouse gas emissions;

· substituting fossil-based materials;

· a transformation from a fossil-dependant economy to a renewable economy;

· fulfilling a number of sustainability challenges (as identified by the United Nations with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)).


To achieve a competitive circular bioeconomy, stable and enabling policy conditions in various fields (including environment, infrastructure, transport, energy, agriculture, etc.) must be in place. The review of the 2012 European Bioeconomy Strategy provides the opportunity to set up such conditions. The paper industry welcomes it and wants to be an active partner in preparing a new Circular bioeconomy strategy for Europe.

What makes the paper industry unique is both the renewable biomass and recyclable feedstocks , grown , renewed and recycled in Europe. This contributes to a genuinely circular bioeconomy.

In order to enhance the contribution and benefits of the circular bioeconomy to Europe’s economy and environment, the european paper industry calls on the EU to put further emphasis in the updated strategy on:

· increasing the availability and mobilisation of biomass (including its transport): this requires notably the promotion of active forest management, the redress of policies that distort biomass supply chains and the adjustment of waste legislation to promote the recycling and recovery of waste and notably of the biomass in the waste from recycling;

· boosting investors’ confidence, notably by de-risking investments made in Europe, and directing EU money (ESIF, EFSI, Research and Innovation) to sustainable sectors in a predictable and stable manner;

· easing access to markets for a wide range of bio-based products by lifting obstacles to their circulation within the single market and by indicating clear preference for sustainable, circular and bio-based products.