Paper industry to seek EU recycling deal

European paper firms aiming to agree new 2005 targets in talks with Commission

The European paper industry is to begin formal negotiations with the European Commission on a voluntary agreement to increase recycling. The board of the Confederation of European Paper Industries (Cepi) agreed yesterday to push ahead with the talks, which it hopes will lead to a formally recognised EU-level commitment.

Speaking to Cepi's general assembly in Brussels this morning, the chairman of the body's recycling committee, Georg Holzhey, said that a voluntary commitment would allow industry to find the best ways of reaching a target set at EU level. "I am confident that this [negotiation] will end successfully. It is in everybody's interest to ensure that the paper loop in Europe is closed and in the most efficient and economical way," he said.

Cepi, which represents about 1,000 pulp and paper manufacturers in Europe, says it is too early to give precise details of the agreement it is seeking. However, Mr Holzhey told ENDS Daily that the industry would undertake to increase paper and board recovery and recycling in the EU from 50% currently to an amount to be negotiated with the Commission, with 2005 as a target date. Part of the increase would include incineration with energy recovery, he added.

The push for an EU voluntary agreement on paper recycling comes at a time when many industries are looking to negotiate environmental deals with the European Commission, following undertakings such as that from car makers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (ENDS Daily 23 July) and the detergent industry to improve efficiency and reduce waste and pollution (ENDS Daily 6 October).

As part of the paper deal, Cepi will seek the cooperation of other players in the production and consumption of paper, in both the packaging and publishing industries. Changes in the production of paper products - using inks and glues that can easily be treated in recycling, for example - will be vital for any substantial increase in the recycling rate, Cepi believes.

Mr Holzhey reckons that about ten other industries, including manufacturers of inks and glues, printers and processors, should be involved. Ideally Cepi would like to see these other "links in the paper chain" sign up to the agreement it will now begin negotiating with the Commission.

Cepi also published today its second annual environmental report, which gives details

such as the industry's consumption of energy and emissions of pollutants. The report also advocates using voluntary agreements on energy efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Presenting the report, Stefan Kay, chairman of Cepi's environment committee, said: "Our industry has the potential to become one of the first real large-scale sustainable industries."

Follow Up:
Cepi, tel: +32 2 627 4911.

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