Geminor plans to take a bigger share of the recovered paper market

The market for recovered waste paper (RCP) will grow considerably in Europe in the years to come. Geminor plans to contribute to the circular loop by bringing an expert onto the team.

The material recycling of waste paper has for a long time been an international multimillion-euro industry, and is now an important element in EU’s efforts to create new circular economies towards 2030. By bringing Yasser Ismail on board Geminor’s German team, recovered paper (RCP) will become a more important part of the company’s material recycling strategy.

With a 22-year long career in the paper recycling business, Yasser is an expert on the European paper market, and has handled, sourced, imported and sold recovered paper and pulp for various companies. The newly appointed German Senior Account & Development Manager is situated in Hamburg, where his task will be to keep track of the market and introduce services within handling and logistics of recovered paper.

– Geminor is already a market leader within waste wood, RDF and SRF – but now there is an increasing demand for paper and this is a market that we want to take part in. We are looking at this in a global perspective – not only a regional one, says Yasser.

Yasser Ismail is Geminor’s recovered paper expert

Two industries

The paper industry mainly consists of two production lines: graphic paper for printing, and the production of paper for packaging. According to CEPI, the European organization representing the paper industry, the two are presently moving in opposite directions: The production of graphic paper for printing and writing papers dropped by 2,1% to 32,8 % market share in 2019, while the packaging paper industry simultaneously increased its production by 2,9% to 54,1% market share. This development has been clear for some time, with an average 8-10 % annual drop in graphic paper production over the past 16 years.

– The decrease in print media is only one of many factors that impact the waste paper market. Another one is that paper packaging replaces plastic packaging in some consumer areas. Major retail stores are banishing products such as plastic bags and straws, says Yasser Ismail.

Increasing demand for recovered paper

The recycling of waste paper will grow considerably in the EU in the years to come, Yasser explains.

– There is a considerable evolution going on in Europe when it comes to recovered paper products. In the next five to ten years we will see a great development in how we use our waste paper. The collecting of waste paper is also under development: Scandinavian countries such as Sweden are top collectors within Europe of roughly 75,8%, followed by Germany with a collection re-use rate of 74 %. The rate is also picking up in the UK, and the average EU rate is now 72 %. The recycling of paper will increase as demand for material recycling increases, says Yasser.

Stop of export to Asia

China is presently the largest consumer of waste paper for re-use (approx. 55 Mio Mt/ year), and has during the past six years set up very tight governmental pollution restrictions. This will lead to the termination of import of waste paper from North America and Europe by the end of 2020.

– The tendency of the major off-taking countries is clear: Co-mingled collected materials which have a high pollution content are no longer wanted and must be processed in the countries where they are collected, says Yasser.

It is well known that legislative amendments and environmental requirements are implemented faster than the market can adapt to. Still, it does not necessarily mean that the market is out of balance.

– The limitation of export to Asia will not result in a market collapse. The material flows shift due to the changed needs. New paper mills in Italy and Germany, as well as the upcoming conversion projects from graphic to packaging in Austria and France, means that waste paper in surplus countries such as Great Britain will mainly be staying in Europe.

– The packaging industry is the key driver at the moment. They can receive paper products that are not 100 percent clean, such as cardboards, cartons and mixed paper. Two new packaging mills have opened this autumn: The ProGroup Paper PM3, which produces brown packaging material; and Hamburger Rieger, which is making white top Liner for packaging. Both will be in need of huge volumes of recovered paper for production, close to 1,2 million tonnes per year, says Yasser.

Geminor will be monitoring the market closely and providing the services in demand.

–  At the moment there are mills opening in Central and Eastern Europe, but at the same time production lines are shut down in the Nordics, which makes this a dynamic and everchanging market. Our focus will be on finding partners that can support long term contracts. In this search we will also be monitoring the global markets, both in Asia and the USA, says Yasser.

– Increased focus on waste paper is a natural next step for Geminor, and part of our medium- and long-term plan and strategy, concludes Yasser Ismail at Geminor in Hamburg.