IMPACTPapeRec Project  – boost paper separate collection and recycling

Contact and Project managerAntonio Dobon or
Address: Parque Tecnológico C/Albert Einstein 1, 46980 Paterna Valencia
Phone: +34 96 182 00 00, Fax: +34 96 182 00 01
ITENE – Instituto Tecnológico del Embalaje, Transporte y Logística – Sustainability Area
WHERE: Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, France, United Kingdom
WHEN: February 2016 – January 2018
WASTE MANAGEMENT HIERARCHY: Recycling: Reuse – Reprocessing
TYPE OF INSTRUMENT: Voluntary/promotional
WASTE STREAMS: Cardboard, Paper

About:  The European project IMPACTPapeRec was launched for the purpose of increasing separate paper collection for recycling in Europe and avoid incineration and landfilling. This initiative turns into real activities to be carried out in the identification and implementation of best practices for PfR (Paper and cardboard for Recycling) collection in Europe. IMPACTPapeRec is a consortium of 19 partners from eight countries, i.e. Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Poland, Romania and Spain.

The innovative approach of the defined participatory strategies on separate paper collection for efficient recycling is based on the commitment of the whole paper value chain: Research entities (ITENE and PTS), large paper companies (SaicaHamburgerStora Enso), a waste management company (Tega), a European retailer (CARREFOUR SPAIN), representative SME groups (PROPAKMA, Fenix Dupnica) clustering organization of municipalities (ACR+) and municipalities (Sfantu Gheorghe, Mihai Viteazu, Dupnitsa, MezdraTrivalis), the German Institute for Standardisation (DIN), an EPR scheme (CITEO), the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI), and an environmental NGO (EEB). They represent a clear balance along the value chain.

IMPACTPapeRec poster and leaflet for citizens, promoting separate collection of paper for recycling.

Project conference

The project’s main objective is to provide an innovative and common knowledge platform of PfR collection (Paper for Recycling collection) which will enable present and future cooperation of Europe stakeholders. IMPACTPapeRec wants to act as the common European information point for PfR collection for the European industry, by pooling and disseminating information and bringing together stakeholders from the value chain to exchange results, findings and experiences. In order to improve the development and promotion of best practices in paper collection there is a need for common evaluation and benchmarking methodologies. A best practice handbook has been developed to support the different EU regions in the implementation of best PfR collection procedures.

Best practices related to PfR are collected through a participatory approach and then developed and promoted through a handbook which aims to support the different EU regions in the implementation of best collection procedures. The project IMPACT PapeRec focused on seven municipalities in five focus countries, each one defined as „cluster”:

  • Countries where paper and board still largely ends up in residual waste (Bulgaria, Poland and Romania)
  • Countries where the most frequent collection scheme is based on separating paper from residual waste but its collection mixed with other recyclables such as metals and plastics (France and UK).

Knowhow: the best practices related to PfR are assessed based on common evaluation and benchmarking methodologies, benefiting by consortium participants’ knowledge.
Funding; budget: financed by the European Union Horizon 2020 programme.

Statistics prove that Europe’s paper recycling rate and recycled paper contribution in total paper consumption increased, encouraging the extension of best practices already used to all European regions:
• Current production of paper and board in EU: 91 million tonnes/year
•  Consumption of paper and board: 82 million tonnes
• Collected paper for recycling (PfR): 58 million tonnes, generated by households, commerce, industry and offices.
• Current paper recycling rate: 71.7%
• Contribution of PfR to raw material mix in European paper industry has increased over the last few years from 25 million tonnes (1991) to 47 million tonnes (2014).
It is expected that, further implementation of this practice by regions and countries with current lower recycling rate, such results will be improved. The Good and Best Practice Handbook For the Collection of Paper and Board for Recycling is the main outcome of the integrated work carried out by the IMPACTPapeRec project partners.

Each one of analyzed practices proposed to be included in the handbook was evaluated and rated considering their impact and feasibility as function of the local conditions. This assessment ensures that the results will show proper effectiveness and will meet the proposed objectives set by handbook users (e.g. local authority).


Urban metabolism relevance
IMPACTPapeRec is related to emerging European initiatives whose objectives include the re-use of by-products and waste fractions in alternative production processes to avoid landfilling. The practice has been elaborated considering an analysis of aspects with impact on waste and economic flows, such as:

  • Operational aspects: collection system and infrastructure, types of containers, trucks
  • Policy, legislation and economic aspects: legal regulations, economic instruments, costs and revenues, strategies
  • Monitoring and control: data collection, performance monitoring, quality control, enforcement
  • Information and communication: approaches to communicate and educate the citizens.

In terms of circular economy, it is important to mention that paper fiber has 3,5 loops in Europe

Study visit to France

Engaged participatory processes

IMPACTPapeRec aims to act as the common European information point for PfR collection for the European industry, by pooling and disseminating information and bringing together stakeholders from the value chain to exchange results, findings and experiences.

Surveys and questionnaires have been used: based on these, each cluster group discussed the current situation, challenges and benefits of incentives and policy measures. Also, using the results of a survey, the cluster groups evaluated ten factsheets and answered a questionnaire for each one.

Interviews performed during workshops in France with participants from Bulgaria and Romania showed that there is no or only limited information material available for municipalities regarding the separate collection of recyclables or specifically paper and board. That could be a reason why the feedback from Bulgarian and Romanian municipalities is a bit higher than from clusters from other countries.


  • The information and tools provided by this practice through the released handbook are addressed mainly to municipalities. This is why the documentation includes the direct feedback given by the municipalities.
  • Regional and technical experts’ opinions have been also included in the practice validation.
  • Based on the results of this survey among municipalities and experts, recommendations have been made for the final version of handbook.

The content of the handbook has been provided at different times during the project duration, the validation being done in a multi-step approach, which included face to face meetings, emails for determining the rating scale, implementation status, explanations and canvas strategy analysis.

An important aspect stressed out is that association of citizens are giving direct feedback to municipalities. As an example, the Municipality of Sfantu Gheorghe (RO) is organising open days at the recycling yard for children and students; 4-5 times per year they are invited from schools and kindergardens to make presentations about recyclables.

Workshops: a cluster workshop was held in September 2017 in La Roche-sur-Yon, France, when cluster groups evaluated 28 proposed incentives and policy measures in terms of existence, impact and complexity in their territory. As a conclusion, each participant per group selected 10 most promising measures. The municipalities used the tool on the project webpage according to their individual problems and needs.


“Paper collection is a multi-dimensional issue and finding a stand-alone solution is not possible. We are confident that the project will help us find the right ways to promote paper collection wherever we can” said Antonio Dobón, project coordinator from ITENE.
The project results demonstrate that the innovative approach of the strategies on separate paper collection for efficient recycling is based on the commitment of the whole paper value chain.
Sustainability and replicability
This project is aligned with European and national legislation on waste. Recycling is a priority in recovery strategies, as it boosts the progressive increase of recycling rates. Knowledge and results from the project will serve as basis for the development of new regulations and standards in the future, both at EU and regional level. The conditions in each European territory are very different and perceptions depend on specific experiences with the paper recycling topic. This is why the analysis made by project clusters gave an initial picture about if and how the identified causes and challenges are relevant in each cluster territory. The aim was not to compare the results in the clusters to one another, but to understand and provide support on how the practices can be adapted to specific pre-existing conditions of each region, so that implementing a good practice would be made with minimum possible financial, material or organizational efforts.
Success Factors
Increasing the separate collection of paper for recycling (PfR) and promote appropriate schemes lowers the landfilling and incineration of this waste. In addition, it lowers the costs of producing paper using recycled paper, contributing to a sustainable economic development
Waste, Resources, Innovation.
Key challenges
The increase in availability of PfR has not taken place in all EU states and this is especially applicable in Central and Eastern European countries.

The main challenges EU countries face with are:
• Low quantity of collected paper and board and, hence, low recycling rate. In case when pa-per and board are sorted from other waste or recyclables streams to increase the quantity, the PfR quality is suffering. The cost coverage of the system is at risk as profits from PfR sales are low.
• Mixed material which decreases the collection quantity. The quality of commingled collect-ed material is affected. The cost coverage is at risk (more effort for sorting, less profit be-cause of poor quality material).
• Low quality of paper and board – impurities and moisture. The decrease in quality results in smaller profits from PfR sales. No impact on quantity and citizens satisfaction.
• Low motivation of citizens, resulting in a decrease of the collection quantity and quality. The cost coverage is at risk. No impact on satisfaction of citizens.
• Vandalism results in a decrease of the collection quantity. Replacement needs high invest-ment costs. As citizens might feel endangered and annoyed, their satisfaction suffers.
• Littering around collection sites results in a decrease of the collection quantity and citizens’ satisfaction. Additional costs for cleaning are necessary.

For more information, please check the deliverable, or contact the implementing body.

Click on the green icon on the left side of the page to print and download this Best Practice as PDF.

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