The Economic and Environmental Impact of Paper Recycling

WithStig Byström, Lars Lönnstedt

The Optimal Fibre Flow-model, a combined optimization and simulation model, calculates the optimal combination of energy recovery and recycling of waste paper for paper and board production. In addition, the environmental impact is estimated by using an Environment Load Unit-index (ELU-index). The ELU-index assigns an environmental load value to emissions and to the use of non-renewable resources such as oil and coal, if the Scandinavian forest industry uses hydroelectric energy in pulp and paper production, and the utilization rate of waste paper increases, the ELU-index increase. However, a political decision that would force the forest industry to decrease its utilization rate and thus favor a 10% increase in energy recovery would result in a marginal loss for the Scandinavian forest industry of about 5.5 USD/ton. On the other hand, if the electricity is produced from fossil fuel, the ELU-index is initially quite stable, but later increases. A minimum is found at a utilization rate of about 25 per cent. Here, a forced decrease in the utilization rate, along with a 10% increase in energy recovery, would cause a marginal loss for the Scandinavian forest industry with about 6.5 USD/ton.