Over the last year, paper recyclers have experienced steady supply and demand and positive price movements. Some of these recyclers also have begun using new recovered fiber grade specifications that were introduced and ratified by Paper Stock Industries (PSI), a national chapter of the Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), and ISRI’s board of directors.

Recyclers who met in Chicago Oct. 19-21 for the Recycling Today Media Group’s 2016 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference discussed the new No. 56 sorted residential papers (SRP) grade, which replaces the No. 8 old newspaper (ONP) grade, and the new No. 58 sorted clean news (SCN) grade, during the PSI Session.

The new specifications, which describe paper stock grades derived from single-stream material recovery facilities (MRFs), work for some recyclers, while others in attendance at the conference said they make deals that use descriptions that go beyond the defined specifications.

Rob Barnwell, recovered fiber specialist for Kousa International, Los Angeles, told conference attendees the new specifications were certainly necessary. While Barnwell said it was possible to “get really clean ONP out of single-stream” MRFs, when it comes to No. 8 ONP, there aren’t too many true bales of the grade being made.

As newsprint demand has declined, mills have converted ONP machines to produce packaging, according to the article “No Longer Making News,” starting on page S6.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), Washington, reports that since 2014, more than 1.5 million tons of newsprint have been removed from the domestic market, either by closing paper machines or by converting production to other grades of paper or paperboard that have a healthier outlook.

Conversions from newsprint to packaging grade production has been significant over the past several years, though such conversions have had mixed results.

Packaging—and recovered fiber—are the growth engines for the global pulp and paper sector, said David Powlson of Pöyry Consulting. Powlson spoke at the 2016 Plastics Recycling Conference Europe, held in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in early November. An abridged and edited version of his presentation can be found starting on page S16 in the article “Packaging Delivers.”

Paper packaging, including containerboard, carton board and some sack paper, accounts for almost half of the global paper sector, he said.

As Jonathan Gold, principal of The Gold Group Recycling Consultants LLC, Swampscott, Massachusetts, says in the article “Getting the Sack,” “Recycling companies make it their business to understand and share with their clients their deep knowledge of recovery systems, paper manufacturing and repulping, packaging substrates and technologies that affect the value of recovered material.”

Here’s to continuing these conversations for the betterment of the recovered fiber market. We’ll see in you Chicago Oct. 11-13, 2017, for the 2017 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference, and we hope to hear from you in the meantime.