Impact of waste-to-energy on the demand and supply relationships of recycled fibre: Dissertation

Petri Ristola

Research output: ThesisDissertationMonograph


Today, recycled fibre is globally the most important papermaking raw material in terms of volume. Its collection and use has tripled in absolute terms since 1990 and its market share of all fibres used in papermaking has increased by roughly 1 %-unit per year. Still, globally speaking, about a third of the volume of used paper that could potentially be used for recycling is just disposed of. Thus, recycled fibre can, and is expected to, further increase its market share of papermaking fibres. There is, however, increasing turmoil in the market for papermaking raw materials as a consequence of the political agenda aimed at mitigating global warming and decreasing the use of fossil fuels. This has already become evident in the European fuel wood market, and there is also growing interest in the efficient utilisation of the fuel component in solid wastes, including the discarded paper that currently remains outside recycling. Today in Europe, just about a third of the solid waste is recovered as energy, mostly at relatively low-efficiency waste incineration facilities. The paper industry has recently played an active role in these trends, too. Re-cycled-fibre-based paper mills in Europe have started to employ modern technology for the sole and co-combustion of refuse-derived fuels and process tailings. These units are dimensioned for the energy needs of the paper mills and have been found to be highly effective in cutting the energy bill for recycled-fibre-based papermaking. In continuance of this theme, proposals have been made concerning more advanced concepts that employ fibre separation techniques from different solid waste streams for further utilisation in the manufacturing of paper products, or, for instance, in ethanol conversion. This development underlines the strong technical synergies between recycled-fibre-based papermaking and modern waste-to-energy technologies. At the same time it poses serious questions concerning the expected further increase in the usage of recycled fibre in papermaking. This dissertation discusses the application of modern waste-to-energy technologies in the paper industry as a means of improving individual paper mills' competitive positions and financial performance. Their impact is found to be clearly significant and therefore the on-going investment activity can be expected to continue. As the use of various solid wastes for fuel potentially interferes with the targeted increase in paper recycling, there emerges a need to analyse the impacts of this development on the recycled fibre markets. This is achieved by developing a quantifiable model for analysing the composite market for various discarded-paper-containing waste flows and by conducting a Delphi study on the supply-demand behaviour of recycled fibre. The Delphi study utilised a panel of experts to i) gain support and feedback concerning the construction of the composite market model, ii) gain qualitative insight on the likely development scenarios for the recovered paper market, and iii) create a basis for preliminary quantification and testing of the model. By combining the results of the Delphi study and the composite market model, this study paints a picture of a future scenario for the composite RCF market in Europe in 2020. The main scenario is complemented by a selection of alternative views of the future that stem from the Delphi process. It becomes evident that the times of inexpensive recycled fibre for papermaking are past, and that the energy sector is also developing significant paying capabilities for recycled-fibre-containing waste flows.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor Degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Eloranta, Eero, Supervisor, External person
Award date4 Jun 2012
Place of PublicationEspoo
Print ISBNs978-951-38-7451-3
Electronic ISBNs978-951-38-7452-0
Publication statusPublished - 2012
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • pulp and paper industry
  • recycled fibre
  • recovered paper
  • wastepaper
  • waste-to-energy
  • foresight study
  • Delphi
  • price theory
  • constructive research


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of waste-to-energy on the demand and supply relationships of recycled fibre: Dissertation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this