The pulp and paper industry is the second largest forest-based sub-sector, with a total turnover of Euros 81 billion in 2016, and employing over 177 000 people in some 620 companies across Europe. The paper industry has attained a current recycling rate of around 72%, thereby making recycled paper the most important "raw material" for paper making today. This has been achieved through progress in paper collection and sorting, recycling and de-inking technologies.
The European pulp and paper industry is well placed to be the main provider of biofuels from non-food feedstock in the near future. Fibres from recoverd paper and board can be fractioned in order to obtain particles that could be used for bioplastics, biocomposites or as a base for the production of cellulose biofuels.
The industry has made substantial progress in the areas of biorefinery and nanotechnology. In combination with certain biomaterials, nanocellulose – nature’s own "enforcement steel" – can act as an impermeable water barrier. As the second most abundant organic molecule after nanocellulose, lignin is now being thoroughly explored due to its potential for conversion into aromatic molecules.