The paper and board industry continued to be very busy in April and so recovered paper demand also remained at a very high level for the lower, medium and high grades. The month again brought price increases for the medium grades and for imported, high-strength qualities whereas the lower grades stabilized at a high level.
By Reinhold Schmidt (Recycling Karla Schmidt).
Collection volumes were good in April but were still well below usual levels. Probably in anticipation of potential further closures to contain the COVID pandemic and the resulting reduced availability of paper for recovery, the paper industry tried to keep its stocks as high as possible. As a result, recovered paper warehouses were swept empty.
In May, shop and restaurant restrictions were further tightened as part of the fight against the pandemic while holidays also contributed to the comparatively low collections of recovered paper. At the same time, production of corrugated board base paper was stable at a very high level, giving the impression that only a previous slight upturn in mills’ recovered paper stocks had prevented a further price increase for lower grades. Recovered paper companies’ warehouses remained empty owing to the high order volumes.
As in previous months, recovered paper grades required in Germany but not available in sufficient quantities were imported both from neighbouring European countries - including Benelux and France - and from the USA. In April and May, there was a capping of the price peaks for special quantities of the lower grades, with a sideways movement discernible for most of the other grades. However, a few segments such as unprinted rotation papers and coloured office files saw further slight price increases.
In June, the first steps towards reopening as a result of improving COVID conditions also had a positive impact on recovered paper volumes, although this did not lead to a build-up of stock among processors. Mills continued to operate at a high level and ordered large quantities of recovered paper; even several unplanned stoppages of larger corrugated board base paper machines - some lasting for weeks - did nothing to change the fact that the recovered paper market appeared empty.
Deinking goods remained in high demand, repeatedly leading to special quantities and special prices that were generally stable at a high level. In some instances, quantities were imported from neighbouring countries in order to meet the local demand for raw materials. However, ongoing problems with global container availability and freight rates ensured limited recovered paper exports here and there for certain qualities.
In June, there was a drop-off in some of the price peaks within the lower grades segment, which varied from region to region. Medium and higher grades reportedly made small price gains.