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UK Paper and Board Industry declines further in 2008 but with limited impact on domestic recycling levels

In 2008, the UK produced just less than 5 million tons of paper and board, a 4.7% reduction on the 2007 total. In terms of raw material input, UK paper and board mills used just under 4.0 million tons of recovered paper and board, a much smaller decline of 1.3% on 2007 usage.

Four paper and board mills closed in the UK in 2008 and a further three announced consultations over future plans; these seven mills represent around 675,000 tons of UK capacity. A key factor quoted in the decisions to cease production was lack of profitability due to difficult trading conditions with little hope of investment returns at each of the sites. The small decline in domestic usage of recovered paper and board through 2008 means that UK exports for the year are likely to be around the 4.7 million ton mark, just above that exported last year. Over 76% of this material was destined for Far East markets.

2009 will see the full impact of the 2008 UK mill closures reflected in the yearly production totals together with the impact of the possible further closures in 2009 as a result of the announced consultations (balanced somewhat by planned new capacity coming on stream). CPI estimates that in 2009 around 4.7 million tons will be produced domestically with usage of recovered paper and board remaining around the 4.0 million ton mark.

CPI expects that the planned new paper and board making capacity in 2009 and 2010 will reverse the decline in paper and board manufacturing and secure a better outlook for the industry, particularly in terms of domestic paper and board recycling. All the planned new UK capacity is based on 100% recovered paper and board.

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