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BIR Amsterdam Convention - Paper Division: Top honour for Global Recycling Day’s leading light

  • 26 May 2023

The driving force behind the creation of Global Recycling Day, the annual celebration of the importance and the successes of the world recycling industry, has been accorded the BIR Paper Division’s most prestigious honour, the Papyrus Award. Ranjit Singh Baxi of UK-based J&H Sales International, a Past President of BIR and also formerly President of its Paper Division, received the accolade from current divisional President Francisco Donoso of Spain-based Dolaf Servicios Verdes SL during the body’s latest meeting in Amsterdam on May 22.

Global Recycling Day was first held on March 18 2018 to coincide with BIR’s 70th birthday, and has since taken place every year on the same date. In noting that the reach of Global Recycling Day extended to some 60 countries and to around a quarter of the world’s population, Mr Baxi thanked everyone who had contributed to its development. “This award is for all of you in this room and across the world,” he told delegates.

Earlier at the Paper Division gathering, a brief report from Mr Donoso had set the scene for two statistics-based guest presentations. Basing his comments on final figures for 2021, he noted that the Far East remained the world’s largest recovered paper producer on approaching 120 million tonnes per annum, equivalent to just under 50% of the world total. In volume terms, Asia was also the leading importer of recovered paper while North America was the largest exporter, Mr Donoso pointed out.

It was the considerable flow of recovered fibre from the USA to Asia that dominated the contribution of John Atehortua, Regional Trading Manager at CellMark in the Netherlands. Asian markets “will always look to the USA first”, he argued, because of the offer of a high content of kraft and long fibres. But the import ban in China had forced “a shift in mentality” among the USA’s OCC exporters who now “have to be more proactive about seeking clients in Asia”.

From a situation in 2016 where China had absorbed over 50% of US OCC exports, more than half of the shipments out of the USA in 2022 had headed to one of three destinations, namely India, Thailand or Indonesia.

Fellow guest speaker Simone Scaramuzzi, Commercial Director of LCI Lavorazione Carta Riciclata Italiana Srl in Italy, focused his presentation on the shifting trend in recovered paper shipments from Europe to Asia over recent years, particularly following the introduction of China’s import ban which had led, he said, to the diversion of recovered paper to other destinations, to investments in other Asian countries, and to altered shipping services and prices. Other reasons why the recovered paper market had “changed drastically in the last four or five years” included the COVID pandemic and rising energy costs, he declared.

In terms of numbers, European exports to China were said to have tumbled from 5.9 million tonnes in 2016 to just 0.7 million tonnes in 2020. The leading Asian buyers of European recovered fibre in 2022 had been Indonesia (1.27 million tonnes), India (1.03 million tonnes) and Turkey (680,000 tonnes), according to Mr Scaramuzzi. Total volumes dispatched from Europe to Asia in 2022 climbed around 12% year on year to 4.9 million tonnes, he added.

As regards capacity developments, Asia was building new machines whereas Europe was largely converting existing machines from graphic to brown grades production. Even so, said Mr Scaramuzzi, Europe would still need to export recovered fibre in order to maintain a balance between its production and demand.