European paper industry: Structural change continues, overall performance positive

Sortiertes Altpapier (Foto: Verband Deutscher Papierfabriken e.V.)

Brussels — In 2015, the European paper industry’s performance in total was second best in the world after China, with a stable production and increased consumption compared to 2014. The packaging sector’s production continued to increase whilst graphic paper (newsprint, printing and writing paper) maintained its recent decline.

This and other figures can be found in the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI)’s recently-launched 2015 Key Statistics brochure, which gives a clear picture of the industry’s performance last year. The report includes data on production, consumption and the trade of pulp, paper and raw materials, as well as on energy and environment.

The main highlights of the report include:

  • CEPI members produced 90.9 million tonnes of paper and board. This corresponds to a slight decrease of 0.2 percent in 2014 and relative stability over the last three years. The operating rate for 2015 was 91.2 percent, up from 89.7 percent in 2014.
  • Graphic grades (newsprint, writing and printing paper) represented 38.8 percent of all paper and board produced in Europe in 2015, packaging grades 49.0 percent, sanitary and household papers 7.9 percent and speciality grades 4.3 percent.
  • The utilization rate of newsprint for recycling reached 92,8 percent, of packaging papers 74,4 percent, of sanitary and household papers 40,4 percent and of other paper and board 39,9 percent. So total paper and board summed up to a utilization rate of 52,5 percent. Of 47,7 million tonnes of paper for recycling, Germany utilized 35,1 percent, followed by France with 11,1 percent, Spain with 10,9 percent and Italy with 10,2 percent.
  • The overall output performance of CEPI countries in total was slightly better than in most other major traditional paper producing regions of the world, with a fall in production recorded in all regions except China. Paper and board production decreased in Brazil (-0.5 percent), South Korea (- 0.9 percent), the USA (-1.0 percent), Japan (-1.0 percent) and Canada (-7.4 percent). Production in China rose by 2.3 percent compared to 2014.
  • Consumption rose for the second year in a row by 0.5 percent compared to 2014, totalling 77.4 million tonnes. The economic recovery observed in the EU28 and the euro area in 2015 – annual GDP increase by 2.0 percent and 1.7 percent respectively (source: Eurostat) – had a positive impact on paper and board demand.
  • CEPI countries maintained an overall positive paper and board trade balance (exports exceeding imports) of 13.5 million tonnes in 2015, compared to 14.0 million tonnes in 2014.
  • Market pulp production fell by 0.7 percent compared to 2014, with an output of 13.1 million tonnes.

Ernst & Young issued a limited assurance statement on the data quality rating that CEPI carried out on its core indicators in the statistics report. You can download it as well as the Key Statistics report in PDF format from CEPI’s website at or request your own paper copy by sending an email to

Source: Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI)