Paper producers and recovered fibre collectors and traders in Europe have grown accustomed to dealing with an imbalanced economic situation in the region, with nations coping with different austerity levels and economic recovery issues.
Industrial production figures gathered by Eurostat, online at http://epp.euustat.ec.europa.eu, however, are pointing to a gravitational pull on manufacturing that is unwelcome news for recyclers already scrambling for material.
The trend in industrial production in the 27 nations of the European Union from October 2011 through October 2012 is downward, and the lower production figures are across the board.
In addition to sinking production index figures in Spain (down from 81.1 to 78.3, with 2005 output measured as 100) and Italy (down from 86.9 to 81.8), activity in France, the Netherlands and even Germany is slowdown.
While Germany’s industrial production figure was a healthy 112 in October 2011, by October 2012 it had sunk to 107.8. Likewise, in the Netherlands the index figure of 104.2 in October of 2011 is now barely above its 2005 level at 100.4 in October 2012.
In a mid-December report, U.S.-based research group The Conference Board terms the economies of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Romania and the Netherlands as “recessionary” and forecasts little to no growth in the EU for 2013.
“Positive growth in economic activity in the near term has not become more likely,” said Bert Colijn, European economist with The Conference Board, in late November. “Business and consumer confidence indicators have been dragging the LEI (Leading Economic Index) lower, illustrating that weakness in the economy remains widespread. The increased stabilization of the euro area financial system has not yet translated into greater confidence in the nonfinancial economy.”
In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Farah Hamirani of Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based Paper Chase International, faces better prospects for economic growth. (Paper Chase and the Hamirani family are profiled in “The Chase is On,” starting on p. 22.)
“We have seen an upward trend in the recycling industry as awareness is constantly increasing and we see a continuous demand for fiber,” Hamirani says of fibre collection levels.
The U.S. domestic market, meanwhile, included actions by some recycled-content board mills to build up their OCC inventories. With generation still light, many mills were reportedly paying premiums to guarantee an adequate supply of OCC.