Recycling 2.0 – Opportunities from recovered paper crisis

Australia’s world’s best practice paper and paperboard recovery and recycling performance and program is at a crossroads.

To see more of our detailed analysis, download the complete feature in this month’s edition of the subscription only Pulp & Paper Edge.

For Australia, paper and paperboard, much of it collected from Australian households, has been the giant volume that fuelled all other collections. Exports of recovered paperboard (Old Corrugated Containers or OCC) in particular, were joined with very large domestic processing volumes (primarily to manufacture recycled corrugated boxes) to see Australia’s recovery rates jump from below 50% to a world leading 76% in 2016.

A new ban on material imports to China has massively disrupted that supply-chain and market. So much so that commencing in Victoria (the largest exporting state), regional Councils were advised in early January by the major collectors, they would no longer be taking their recycled materials, invoking force majeure provisions in the process.

The rationale for the major collectors is simple and compelling. There is little point in collecting massive volumes of material if all that happens is the collectors lose money.

At the time of writing, the Victorian government had announced an AUD13 million package to support ongoing kerbside collection for the next four months and will establish a Taskforce to address the issues.

The crisis is under active consideration in other states across Australia. Industry stakeholders and governments at all levels are involved, and a solution is being sought that will continue to see household recycling bins be collected and the materials recycled in the short term.

In this detailed examination, we explore how this situation arose, how serious it could be, and what can be done to address it now and into the longer term.

To see more of our detailed analysis, download the complete feature in this month’s edition of the subscription only Pulp & Paper Edge.

* IndustryEdge is grateful for the extensive industry input and support in preparing this feature analysis. In particular, we worked closely with paper and board recovery and recycling expert Steve Balmforth of Steve Balmforth & Associates, and would like to thank him for his assistance.

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