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paper and cardboard recycling


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Paper and cardboard recycling in the UK is a major success story.

Recovered paper (used paper) is the most important raw material for the UK paper and board industry, representing over 70% of the fibre used to manufacture paper and board in the UK in 2015. This equates to nearly 8 million tonnes of paper and cardboard products being collected.

Once used paper and cardboard is collected, graded, and any contaminants removed, it becomes 'recovered paper', the UK's 'Urban Forest'.

The paper industry is the UK's most successful recycler. Paper recycling is crucial in the UK due to the lack of forests (only 12% of the land base is forested).

Excess recovered paper collected from the UK waste stream that is not used by the UK papermaking industry is exported for recycling. In 2015, for example, the UK exported 4.9 million tonnes of recovered paper and cardboard.

There are limits on recovery, however: paper and cardboard is lost when used for permanent records eg, books, wallpaper etc, destroyed in use or contaminated. Paper also cannot be recycled indefinitely - the fibres would become too weak, so virgin fibres need to be introduced into the papermaking process.

Simple Rules for Recycling




  Almost any used papers can be recycled, including newspapers, cardboard, packaging, stationery, 'direct mail', magazines, catalogues, greeting cards and wrapping paper. It is important that these papers are kept separate from other household waste as papers contaminated with food waste or broken glass, for example, cannot easily be recycled.

Recycling used paper and cardboard also has carbon benefits in comparison to landfilling or incinerating the material with reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Follow the links below for fact sheets and further information about recycling:





......© Confederation of Paper Industries, 1 Rivenhall Road, Swindon, Wiltshire SN5 7BD