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Paper Industry in the UK - Statistics & Facts

The United Kingdom has a long history in the paper industry, with the world’s first mechanical paper machine installed at the Frogmore Paper Mill in 1803. While today the UK is not one of the world’s largest paper-producing countries, the industry still plays an important role in the economy. Tens of thousands of people across the country are employed in the manufacturing of paper and paper products, with UK paper manufacturing bringing in 3.4 billion British pounds of gross value added.

Paper production in the UK

Since 2010, annual paper and board production in the UK has fallen from 4.25 million metric tons to 3.63 million tons as of 2020. Production in 2020 was heavily disrupted by the outbreak of COVID-19, falling roughly six percent compared to 2019 output. This was because many paper mills across the country were forced to suspend or significantly reduce production, especially during peak lockdown months. The production of graphics papers and other specialty papers was the most impacted in 2020, falling by roughly 20 percent. However, the graphics paper segment has been in decline for several years due to digitalization. Currently, recovered fiber accounts for approximately 70 percent of papermaking raw materials in the UK.

Packaging sector

Packaging production in 2020 stayed at a similar level to previous years and remains the largest paper and board sector. In 2019, 4.9 million metric tons of paper and card packaging were placed on the market in the UK across both consumer and non-consumer sectors. One segment that has experienced considerable growth in recent years is home delivery packaging. Between 2014 and 2019, the volume of paper and card packaging placed on the market (POM) in the UK for home delivery increased from 329 million metric tons to 627 million metric tons. This growth has been mainly fueled by the online shopping boom. Of the total paper and card packaging placed on the market, 3.2 million metric tons were corrugated. The demand for paper packaging is expected to continue rising, with more and more people looking to shift away from plastic packaging to more sustainable options.

Paper exports and imports

Of the 9.9 million metric tons of paper and board consumed in the UK in 2020, domestic paper supplies accounted for 30 percent while the majority was from imports. The main exporter of paper and boards to the UK is the European Union, followed by Asia. The European Union also imported 65 percent of UK paper and board exports in 2020, with the Americas importing 16 percent. The export value of graphics papers plummeted to 1.04 billion British pounds in 2020 compared to 3.6 billion British pounds the previous year. In comparison, the value of packaging exports climbed from 0.8 billion British pounds to 2.7 billion British pounds.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 27 most important statistics relating to "Paper Industry UK".


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