UK recovered for recycling 71% of all paper used in 2021, with 22% being unrecoverable, 7% disposed of by other means, while average recycled content of a corrugated box was 88%; carbon emissions from UK's paper-based industries down 72% from 1990: CPI

Sample article from our Pulp & Paper Industry

August 17, 2022 (press release) –

The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) is disappointed that a recent BBC news item on the carbon impact of paper failed to give the full picture.  

The UK’s Paper-based Industries are committed to decarbonisation by 2050. Based on 1990 levels, carbon emissions in UK had by 2021 already fallen by 72% and continue to decline. The industry has a challenging 2050 decarbonisation roadmap and is working actively with Government and its supply chain to implement it.  

Recently, independent research was published which shows that under any reasonable assumptions, corrugated fruit and vegetable trays have a lower carbon impact than reusable plastics. The results of the research, commissioned by the European Corrugated Packaging Association (FEFCO), can be read here.  

Paper and Board is already very widely recycled in the UK. Indeed, in 2021 the UK recovered for recycling 71% of all paper used, with 22% being unrecoverable (such as toilet tissue) and only 7% disposed of by other means. Across Europe (including the UK) the average recycled content of a corrugated box is 88%.  

Disappointingly, this recent BBC article presented the de-inking of paper as being novel. The method shown may be innovative, but industrial scale de-inking has been a fact of life for the commercial recycling of newsprint and office paper for many decades. 

Speaking this afternoon, in reaction to the BBC News Article, Andrew Large, Director General of CPI, said: 

“I’m disappointed that the BBC has chosen to present this partial and potentially misleading report on the Paper Industry. The UK’s Paper-based Industries are taking a leading role in the net zero circular bioeconomy and we are more than happy to present and discuss our achievements and positive plans for the future. We hope that the BBC and other media outlets will engage with us to give the British public the full picture.” 


Contact for further information
Holly Whitbread | | 01793 889612

Notes to Editors
CPI is the leading trade association representing the UK’s Paper-based Industries, comprising paper and board manufacturers and converters, corrugated packaging producers, makers of soft tissue papers, and collectors of paper for recycling.

CPI represents an industry with an aggregate annual turnover of £12 billion, with 56,000 direct and a further 93,000 indirect employees.

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