This year was characterized by extreme price volatility on the recovered paper (RCP) market. Experts discussing at webinars organized by BIR and the EPRC believe that the market will stabilize again in 2021. In the long term, however, new outlets for European RCP have to be found.
Last spring, paper mills in Europe experienced a sudden price surge never seen before for their raw material, with recovered paper prices jumping sometimes by up to 100 € in just a few weeks, depending on the country.
It was a temporary upswing, caused mainly by the covid-19 related lockdowns, which had curbed down production and waste arisings. In some countries, collection activity was also reduced. This created a shortage of recovered paper supply that was responsible for the price jumps.
In its webinar on 9 October on the challenges facing the industry, the European Paper Recycling Council (EPRC) said it did not expect this situation to repeat, even if new lockdown measures should be implemented. “We do not believe we will have such problems again,” EPRC secretary Ulrich Eberle said, relating to a possible recovered paper shortage. Collection centers had not been prepared at the time, the situation being a completely new phenomenon, and had rather interrupted operations than taking the risk of infections, he explained.
Market experts discussing at the convention of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), that was held online this year, also said they expected the market to stabilize again in 2021 after the turmoil caused by the pandemic this year.
China used to buy 65 percent of European RCP
In the long run, some market experts are rather worried about an oversupply on the European recovered paper markets. China has drastically reduced its recovered paper imports over the last years and will stop them completely by the year’s end. The EPRC showed that while the country made up for 65 percent of all European recovered paper exports in the first half of 2017, this year the share was only 5 percent.