European paper and cardboard recycling to generate €1 billion annually by 2030

Green Forum
If the recycling rate of paper and cardboard packaging in Europe were to increase by just 9%, an additional 5 million tons of material could enter recycling streams annually, which would mean added value of up to €1 billion. This is one of the conclusions of the latest study conducted by DS Smith, the sustainable packaging company.

Recycling rates for paper and cardboard have been declining over the past five years, reaching an average of 81% in Europe in 2022. The DS Smith report presents clear actions that can contribute to further increasing the rate to 90%, allowing the circular economy around what is already Europe's most recycled material to reach its maximum potential.

The action plan comes as the growth of e-commerce brings about increased packaging consumption, with new data estimating that EU countries will generate 39 million tons of paper and cardboard packaging each year by 2030.

The DS Smith report, Wasted Paper: A Path to Better Recycling, also shows that recycling rates need a significant boost among young people. Less than two-thirds (62%) of Europeans aged 18 to 24 recycle nearly all paper and cardboard, compared to nearly 9 in 10 (88%) Europeans over 65. This could be due to a lack of understanding and trust in the process, as less than two-thirds (62%) of Generation Z members believe that what they put in their trash can is correctly recycled by authorities, compared to over seven in ten (72%) of those over 65.

In Romania, over 90% of respondents say they want to recycle more paper and cardboard packaging from their households, but only 70% believe they have the means to recycle as much as possible. At the same time, over 78% say significant progress has been made, and it is now easier to recycle paper and cardboard than it was five years ago.

Looking at generational differences, just over 52% of Romanians aged 18 to 24 recycle most of the paper and cardboard they use, while 70.3% of respondents over 65 say they do the same.

Romania is the tenth-largest producer of paper and cardboard waste in Europe and ranks 29th out of 30 European nations in terms of recycling. In 2020, 63% of paper and cardboard were recycled in Romania, compared to a European average of 82%, and DS Smith predicts that this percentage could decrease to 43% by 2030.

The study "Wasted Paper: A Path to Better Recycling" was commissioned by DS Smith and conducted by White Space Strategy based on data collected through interviews with 50 experts (policy decision-makers, NGOs, waste management companies, local authorities, and other stakeholders) and opinion surveys conducted among over 1,000 adult consumers in Romania. Locally, research was conducted in Croatia, France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Spain, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

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Green Forum  |  20 June, 2024 at 8:04 AM