Abstract Paper and board recycling is now a central issue in papermaking. Understanding of material flows, as a part of the total production chain, as well as, fibrous and non-fibrous component flows needs further clarification. These flows are studied at a European level, with special focus on Germany and Sweden. Non-fibrous components are discussed in terms of a material which hampers the processing of paper and board. Resource-efficiency improvements, in conjunction with economic benefits, are sought and recycling has been able to fulfil both of these. The main drivers to maximize the use of recovered paper in paper and board manufacturing, have been improved over the last decades. These drivers are cost, environmental image and good technical properties to be used as raw material. The increased recycling rate has reduced the quality of the collected paper, produced recycled paper, and replaced virgin pulp. Also, recycling as a process, like deinking, produces large amounts of waste material that has challenges to find proper utilization. These problem areas are addressed in this paper, too. One focus area in the analysis of statistical information is an estimation of the share of non-fibrous components and fibre volumes of paper in Europe (EU) for the year 2010.