The European paper industry was invited to collaborate with the World Economic Forum, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment on Circular Economy to produce a white paper with guidelines on design and management for circularity. The new publication provides essential guidance to all actors in the supply chain through simple ecodesign rules for paper products, without limiting innovation and the introduction of new techniques. This is a product of the three pilots under Project MainStream, launched during the 2014 summit in Davos.
“We trust helping circular thinking in all steps of the complex value chain will help reach higher in what is already a high recycling performance”, said CEPI Sustainability Director Jori Ringman, one of the draftsmen of the guidance, in a panel discussion on the feasibility of higher recycling rates at the Packaging and Sustainability event in Brussels on Wednesday. “In circular economy, your downstream is your upstream and what you pass on into the loop will have an impact on your own business.”
Although highly recyclable, paper is usually converted by industries that add chemicals to it through printing inks and other auxiliary materials. This can lead to problems in subsequent circular chains, as these chemicals cannot easily be removed from the paper before re-entering the mill. Furthermore, the already highly-optimised recycling process cannot follow the speed of the evolution of inks and toners.
The publication summarises the key choices to be made by direct (printers, papermakers, collectors) and indirect (such as local authorities, ink producers, equipment manufacturers) stakeholders. More specifically, it identifies the choices that can influence businesses ordering a fibre-based product - printed paper, packaging or other.
“Businesses will have many priorities topping their agendas, such as meeting customer requirements, creating functionalities that meet both the purpose and profitability, and respecting environmental considerations”, says Ringman. “This document is meant to make decision-making in companies easier when balancing these priorities.”