A reduction in Asian demand for OCC was the main reason why prices decreased during the final quarter of 2021. The European Commission announced a ban on EU exports of recovered paper to India from mid-October following a mistake by the Indian authorities indicating that further imports would not be allowed under any circumstances. The Indian government moved rapidly to correct the error - verbally at first in October, and then via an official message several weeks later. However, the EU’s internal processes are not so rapid and the ban could last until the early weeks of February, officials have suggested.
Other new regulations, such as those implemented by Malaysia which include pre-inspection in the country of origin, have also brought confusion because the timing was not clear and so export deals were uncommon. The logistics situation has not helped either: availability of vessels and containers remains quite scarce, with fewer routes and sailings as well as higher prices.
Domestic prices dropped within Spain and the rest of Europe owing to lower export pricing. OCC values in Spain remained rather stable in October but fell in November and December by around Euro 25 per tonne in total. White grades, however, have seen strong demand not only for white packaging paper but also from the tissue sector. However, collections of the office paper grades are generally decreasing in many large buildings owing to the significant proportion of people working from home at present. In office buildings, it is easier to set up “Sorted Office Paper” collection mechanisms as this grade represents the largest in terms of volumes generated. However, when people work from home, we have to count on the municipal “Mixed Paper” collection system and are thus losing plenty of “white” recovered paper.
Regarding the deinking grades, the market has been generally more stable but with slight downward pressure.