BIR study shows growing role of recovered fiber in paper, board production
© Norman Chan |

BIR study shows growing role of recovered fiber in paper, board production

BIR reports that 50.2 percent of global paper and board production was made of recovered fiber in 2018.


The Brussels-based Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) has released a new study on recovered paper markets titled, “Paper and Board Recycling in 2018.” The analysis provides insight on key global recovered fiber trends based on data from 2018.

According to the analysis, 50.2 percent of global paper and board production in 2018 was made of recovered fiber. Of the 211 million metric tons of paper and board produced using recovered fiber, about 86 percent of that paper and board was used for packaging materials while newsprint accounted for 5 percent, printing and writing paper accounted for 4 percent and tissue accounted for 4 percent.

BIR received support for this analysis from the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) in order to assimilate data from a number of authoritative sources, including Fastmarkets RISI, the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) and divisional information sources.

“From our statistical base camp, we have set out to make reasoned calculations that have enabled us to quantify the massive contribution made by recycled fibers as an environmentally beneficial component of global paper and board production,” writes Jean-Luc Petithuguenin, BIR Paper Division President and an executive at France-based Paprec, in the introduction to the BIR report.

According to the analysis, more than 250 million metric tons of recovered paper was produced worldwide in 2018, of which Asia accounted for some 43 percent, Europe approaching 27 percent and North America near 21 percent. Despite a 38 percent year-over-year fall in Chinese imports in 2018, Asia remained the main export outlet for European and U.S. recovered fiber.

BIR’s report also includes statistics on pulp and on paper and board production by product segment. 

Petithuguenin says by undertaking these studies, it’s possible to identify and quantify the emerging trends around which we can base our present-day business decisions. These analyses also provide the recycling industry with statistical support when explaining the positive environmental and economic contribution of paper and board recycling to legislators and policymakers globally.

According to BIR’s report, the data illustrates the importance of recovered fiber in the production of paper and board around the world, particularly in the growing packaging segment. The report also identifies scope for significant increases in the use of recovered fibers, including in the printing and writing segment and in some emerging regions of the world.

Click here to view the full report.