How Europe Kept Its Promise On Recycling

15 Mar 2022

How Europe Kept Its Promise On Recycling

Despite environmental promises being made and broken simultaneously, the European paper recycling industry has achieved its target.

We know climate change is happening, and we know that it is caused by our actions, so organisations have set clear targets to reach a more sustainable world. The most well-known target set at COP21 climate conference in Paris, is the agreement between 196 countries to reduce their emissions to 2⁰C with an aspiration of 1.5C.

Due to the underwhelming results of the COP26 event in Glasgow, 2021, this target is looks rather unlikely, however there has been one target achieved from the Paris Agreement.

Committed to Change

In 2016, the parties of the European Declaration on Paper Recycling announced their commitment to reach a 74% paper recycling rate by 2020.

Faced with many obstacles, the European paper recycling value chain achieved its target through determination and investment. It was announced in July 2021 that 73.9% of all paper and board consumed in Europe in 2020 was recycled.

To achieve this incredible result, several improvements had been made to infrastructure and processes in the industry:  

  • An increase in the recycling rate from 72.5% in 2019 to 73.9% in 2020.
  • 62% of the European paper industry’s fuel consumption was based on renewable energy, largely derived from woody biomass from sustainably managed European forests in 2022.
  • Direct carbon emissions from the industry decreased by 7.1% in 2020.

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