UK Papermakers Continue to Improve their Carbon Efficiency

1 April 2020

The European Commission has just published a record of 2019 site emissions of fossil carbon for energy and industrial sites across the European Union.

Paper and pulp mills are required to comply with the rules of the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), meaning they submit independently verified reports to scheme regulators that detail total site emissions of fossil carbon.  Each tonne of carbon emitted on the site requires the operator to also provide an emissions allowance, either provided free of charge (based on the most efficient installations) or increasingly purchased on the open market.   Notwithstanding the current crisis all UK mills met their legal reporting obligation.

2019 figures show a further reduction in carbon emissions, being around 3.2% lower than in 2018. Allowing for slightly reduced production (1.1%) the figures show that the amount of EU ETS-reported carbon dioxide emitted by UK paper mills (per tonne of production) continues to fall – by around a third in just ten years.

Mills continue to focus on energy efficiency.  Making paper is intrinsically energy intensive, and manufacturers must focus on delivering improved efficiency to remain competitive – energy inefficient mills simply cannot compete with more efficient competitors.  All mills have energy managers and initiatives to identify and deliver energy savings through such measures as the use of new pumps, improved lighting, and better process controls.  As well as these incremental changes, UK mills are also using highly efficient Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants, making much of their own electricity, and also productive use of heat normally wasted in conventional power generation.

Despite this continued progress, mills are increasingly short of allocations, with around half a million (or 28%) more required than supplied free of charge to protect the competitive position of mills compared to operators based outside the EU where carbon does not carry the same cost.

CPI Director General, Andrew Large, commented on the newly released figures.

“Even during a year of huge uncertainty caused by Brexit, our industry still delivered on energy efficiency.  However the cost of compliance is becoming a key issue as the price of carbon raced away during the year.

“We know that the UK intends to establish its own Carbon Trading Scheme in January 2021 and protecting the competitive position of UK industry must be at the forefront of their minds.  To enable long-term planning we need policy certainty and resolving this issue is a priority.

“The paper industry continues to prove that we can decarbonise and with the right policy support progress can be even faster.  As we look forward to recovering from the coronavirus crisis, the last thing we need is huge new carbon costs taking money away that could be invested to decarbonise the industry.”


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 £11 billion, with 56,000 direct and a further 86,000 indirect employees.

Contact points for media enquiries:

To arrange an interview with Andrew Large, CPI Director General, please contact:

Andrew Large | | tel: 01793 889601

Holly Whitbread | | tel: 07974 980852

Emma Punchard | | tel: 01793 889609

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