Tissue360 - Spring/Summer 2014 - (Page 16)
Are We Running Out
of Recycled Fiber?
As recovery rates approach the ceiling, near-future
global fiber shortages could develop
The tissue industry in North America
is a major consumer of recovered fiber, especially printing and writing papers, mainly
for the away-from-home market. However,
certain technologies such as Voith's ATMOS
are designed to produce higher quality tissue
and toweling using recycled fiber for both
the at-home as well as the away-from-home
market, potentially increasing the demand for
recovered paper from an already dwindling
graphic papers sector.
Coupled with the fact that wastepaper
recovery rates in all grade sectors are beginning to peak out around the world, the tissue
industry, together with the pulp and paper
industry as a whole, could be facing a severe
recovered fiber shortfall in the not too distant future.
Currently, wastepaper recovery rates in
North America are creeping up near 70 percent, Europe is approaching 75 percent, and
Japan is nudging 80 percent, already bumping
against the ceiling of what can be efficiently
and effectively recovered. And with recovered fiber demand still rising, a shortage of
recycled fiber of all types, not just printing
and writing papers, could be looming on
The U.S., one of the world's largest exporters of recovered fiber with nearly half of its
annual recycled paper stream (40 percentplus) currently being exported, and some
70 percent of that going to one country-
China, is especially vulnerable to global fiber
dynamics where demand is growing faster
The hypothetical fiber recovery ceiling
differs by country and region, depending on a
series of conditions. In the U.S. there is general
consensus that the ceiling is, on the average,
around 80 percent, though specific grades can
vary above or below that. Old corrugated container (OCC) recovery in the U.S., for example,
has already exceeded 90 percent, according to
Recovered paper collection rates, 1995-2025. Source: Pöyry.
some figures. In Japan with its large urban
populations, some see the overall ceiling at
90 percent-plus, while the European ceiling
is generally believed to be around 85 percent.
Concerns about a recovered fiber shortage
are amplified by the fact that more than half
of the world's paper and board is now being
made with recycled fiber. In the U.S., that
figure is near 45 percent, and rising. At the
same time, the growth rate of global fiber
recovery has slowed in recent years as major
fiber recovering countries push up nearer
the ceiling. Currently, global paper recovery
(according to Pöyry data) is at 223 million
metric tons (collection rate of 56 percent) and
by 2025 is projected to rise only five or six
more percentage points to 308 million metric
tons (61-62 percent collection rate), reflecting
a slowdown in the rate of recovery.
Although these figures all point to a nervous tightening of recovered fiber supply in
the face of increasing demand, the situation is
more complex than that. Especially complicating the situation is the series of stubborn, offand-on economic slowdowns that continue
to plague many countries around the world.
Also a factor that has to be considered in the
recycling "merry-go-round" is the fact that
recycling does wear fiber out. The life span of
pulp fiber is typically about five recycles, then
fines begin to increase and quality (drainage,
strength, yield, etc.) declines.
To help unravel these complexities and get
a clearer view of the recycled fiber dilemma,
Tissue360° recently met with three experts
in the recovered fiber arena: Kathy Kneer,
principal, Pöyry Management Consulting
North America; Bill Moore, president,
Moore & Associates; and Johnny Gold, SVP,
Recycled Fibers Division, Newark Recovery
and Recycling, part of Newark Recycled
Paperboard Solutions, and a member of the
Recycled Paperboard Technical Association
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Tissue360 - Spring/Summer 2014
Automatic Handling International, Inc.
Tissue Industry News
Spraying Systems Co
Success in New Hampshire: Gorham P&T Optimizes New Tissue Machine Production to Premium Quality
OpTest Equipment. Inc.
Are We Running Out of Recycled Fiber?
Improve the Effectiveness of Your Steam Showers
Mechadyne Machine, Inc
Myron L Company
Tissue360 - Spring/Summer 2014