Paper mills flag up quality concerns

The story still is China - China is driving the market and will do so for some time to come,’ a 170-strong gathering of international recovered paper consumers and suppliers was assured by Bill Moore of USA-based Moore & Associates.  In providing the context for the two days of debate at last month’s 2007 European Paper Recycling Conference in Amsterdam, the highly-respected market analyst and consultant quickly got down to specifics in revealing that packaging grades in China ‘is where the dollars are going’. Looking at additional capacity according to recovered fibre type, an additional 16 million tonnes-plus of packaging grade potential is expected to emerge between 2005 and 2009 - with China accounting for well over half the total. Over the same period, capacity for recycling newsprint grades is slated to grow around 7 million tonnes, including some 4 million tonnes in China.  According to Mr Moore, the rate of growth of China’s purchasing in Europe is increasing while the same country’s buying activity in the USA ‘is slowing a bit’. China’s mill companies were now establishing buying arms in Europe ‘as they did in the USA in the late 1990s’, he explained.  At the same time, China is improving on its already-high domestic recovery performance. Mr Moore estimated the figure at 60-65% for the country as a whole, rising as high as 80% in large cities.  Isolated incident?

According to Mr Moore, higher market prices for recovered paper have served to increase recycling activity in general. Recovery rates in Western Europe would increase from an average of around 62% in 2005 to more than 70% by 2012, he suggested, while the corresponding figures for North America were 51% and 60%.

Mr Moore ended his speech by referring to the decision by the Taiwanese government to ban exports of recovered paper with effect from August 1 this year in a bid to prevent valuable raw material from being shipped to countries such as China where higher prices were available. While acknowledging ‘some potential’ for similar action to be taken in other countries, he later observed: ‘My educated opinion is that it won’t spread. I believe it’s an isolated incident.’

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