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European paper industry delivers on emission reduction and recycling commitments

While providing essential products to European citizens in 2020, the European paper industry also delivered on its competitiveness and sustainability agenda.

In spite of the pandemic impacting availability and quality of paper for recycling throughout 2020, the European recycling rate increased by 1.4 percentage points and reached 73.9% in 2020. Looking back at the progress made since 1998 – the base year for the first voluntary commitment set in the European Declaration on Paper Recycling – recycling has increased by 40% or 16.0 million tonnes.

CO2 direct emissions from the European paper industry also declined by 7.1% in 2020, mainly due to the reduced activity but also the continuing efforts of the industry to decarbonise. As a result, the specific CO2 emissions (per tonne of product) further decreased in 2020 by 3.1%. In terms of energy use, 62.2% of the fuel consumption was based on renewable energy: woody biomass sourced from sustainably managed European forests.


‘I am proud to announce that our investments in reducing emissions and using more renewable energy are paying off, with a 7.1% reduction of our CO2direct emissions last year. We continue to lead among industries switching to renewable energy, renewables represented 62.2% of our primary energy in 2020. Our climate commitment is even more important this year, just days ahead of the European Commission’s ‘Fit for 2030”’package. It will radically revamp the regulatory framework to achieve higher emission reductions by 2030,’ commented Jori Ringman, CEPI director general.