Paper & Card Flow 2025 – Paper Packaging Flow Data Report

29th August 2019

The estimated quantity of paper packaging placed on the market & recycled from 2017 to 2025 and the probability of compliance with national & European recycling targets.

Key points
The most robust estimate that could be derived suggests that the quantity of paper & card packaging POM in 2017 was 4,929k tonnes (margin of error +/- 9%).
Assuming that the POM figure of 4,929k tonnes applies then based on this report’s projections of paper & card packaging POM and paper & card packaging recycling the UK is expected to meet the national equivalents of the business targets in 2018, 2019 and

Background

This project was commissioned by WRAP and carried out by Valpak Consulting, Verde Research & Consulting and WRAP, to provide support for paper & card packaging material flow estimates in Defra’s packaging policy work. The objective was to review the quantity of paper & card packaging being placed on the market (POM) and recycled in 2017. The project also reviewed the implications of various scenarios for future recycling rates out to 2025. The method to achieve this was primary and secondary research with engagement of a stakeholder steering group.

Project Key Conclusions: Flow

  • The most robust estimate that could be derived suggests that the quantity of paper & card packaging POM in 2017 was 4,929k tonnes (margin of error +/- 9%).
  • This estimate is 180k tonnes higher than the 2014 industry estimate of 4,749k tonnes.
  • Paper & card packaging POM is projected to increase from 4,929k tonnes in 2018 to 4,964k tonnes in 2020 and to 5,246k tonnes in 2025.

Project Key Conclusions: Recycling

  • The total quantity of UK paper & card packaging recycled in 2017 is estimated to be 3,865k tonnes, including 3,754k tonnes reported and 111k tonnes estimated as unreported recycling. 
  • Based on the POM calculated as part of this project, this gives an overall recycling rate of 78% (reported and unreported recycling) or 76% (reported recycling).

Data Sources

The amount of paper & card packaging POM was calculated using the following methods and data sources:

  • Consumer: Packaging used in the consumer sector was estimated using retail sector sales data and packaging usage.
  • Non-consumer: Packaging used in the non-consumer sector was taken from a range of sources, including the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD) and various secondary data sources.

Data Uncertainties and Appropriate Confidence in Estimates 

The data presented in the Paper & Card Flow report intends to represent the best estimate possible, given the available data. However, owing to uncertainties inherent in many of the data sources and assumptions used, it is important to caveat the robustness of the estimates. Appendix I includes an assessment of the uncertainty and robustness of the estimates.

Meeting the EU Paper Recycling Target

  • Assuming that the POM figure of 4,929k tonnes applies then based on this report’s projections of paper & card packaging POM and paper & card packaging recycling the UK is expected to meet the national equivalents of the business targets in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
  • The associated probabilities of meeting the national equivalents of the business targets for paper and card accredited packaging recycling in 2018, 2019 and 2020 are 100.0%, 100.0% and 99.3%.
  • Based on the POM and recycling scenarios, an assumed CEP target of 75% in 2025 is likely to be met.