Australia: World Leader in Newspaper Recycling

Feed: 51 - Date: 12/2/2008 - Views: 1,252

Australia is a world leader in recovery and recycling of newspapers, according to figures just released by the Publishers National Environment Bureau (PNEB) in Sydney.

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Australia recycled 72.8 per cent of the newsprint consumed in 2002, compared to 71.2 for the USA that year. For Australia this was up from 72.4 per cent in 2001. News Limited Environmental Secretariat compiled the statistics for the PNEB, which represents the major newspaper and magazine publishing companies in promoting and encouraging recycling of newspapers and magazines.

As per Frank Kelett, executive director of the PNEB, "At this high level we have to work hard for every fraction of a percentage point. When we take into account the seven per cent, which is unrecoverable with paper destroyed in uses like lighting fires, garden weed mats and compost and paint dro‌p sheets, we are up around 78% recycling. The publishers and Norske Skog, Australia's newsprint manufacturer, have set a target of 74% recycling of newspapers by the end of 2005 in our current five year Industry Waste Reduction Agreement with the Commonwealth and State Governments."

According to him, "Of all the recyclable products, old newspapers have the highest level of re-use in new product, with newsprint made in Australia containing from 20 to 55% recycled fibre."

In 2002, the state recycling rates were: Victoria 76.2%, New South Wales (NSW) 74.9%, Western Australia (WA) 73.6%, Tasmania 72.4%, South Australia 68.1%, and Queensland 66.4%.

A total of 496,631 tonnes of old newspapers were recovered from council kerbside collections and from printed waste and newsagents' returns. Of this 97,934 tonnes went to the Norske Skog plant at Albury for de-inking to go into new newsprint production, along with 55,000 tonnes of old magazines. Cardboard manufacture took 193,487 tonnes and a further 164,073 tonnes were exported, mainly to Asia and almost entirely to go into new newsprint. The rest, 41,137, tonnes went into products like home insulation, kitty litter and egg cartons.

Excerpts from ANZECC Industry Waste Reduction Agreement: Newsprint 2001-2005: Report On Year 2 to December 31, 2002

Industry Waste Reduction Agreement-Newspapers (2001-2005)
Signatories:The Publishers National Environment Bureau (PNEB) representing Australia's newspaper and magazine publishing and printing companies and Fletcher Challenge Paper (Australia) now Norske Skog Australasia, manufacturer of 90% of the newsprint used in Australia from its plants in Albury (NSW) and Boyer (Tasmania) as well as Kawerau (New Zealand).

The Plan Guidelines are: a. To recover 74% of the newsprint consumed annually in Australia by the end of the 2005, and b. To achieve a collection rate by the Newsprint Producer/Publishers Group of 250,000 tonnes of publication paper a year by the end of 2005.

Progress against Targets
Target 1--the recovery rate: We are well on the way to 74% with a rate of 72.8% of newsprint consumed in Australia in 2002 recycled. Australia is among the leaders globally in newspaper recovery and recycling.

Target 2--the quantity recovered: A total of 496,631 tonnes of newsprint was recovered from kerbside and from publishers returns and pressroom waste in Australia in the year 2002 from a total consumption of 681,766 tonnes. Of this amount, the Producer/Publisher Group was responsible for the recovery of 195,240 tonnes. This was 3.5%, 7067 tonnes, lower than in 2001 and was caused by two factors: a. High export prices resulted in an extra 30,698 tonnes of old newspaper (ONP) being exported in 2002 (mainly in mixed paper form), or 18.7% more than in 2001, reducing the quantities available for Norske Skog to purchase in the market. b. Continuing waste reductions by publishers in improving production techniques to lower press-room waste and distribution management to reduce unsold copies in newsagents. The Norske Skog de-inking plant at the Albury newsprint mill ran at capacity using both kerbside collected material and publishers waste in the form of pressroom waste (both newsprint and magazine grades).

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Newspaper Recovery Report for year ending December 31, 2002
Commitment 1. To recover 74% of the newsprint consumed annually in Australia by the end of the year 2005.

Progress Report For Year Ending December 2002:

2002 2001
Australian newsprint consumption including inserts (tonnes) 681,766 682,747
Recycled for use in: Paperboard 193,487 233,749
Newsprint at Albury and other uses in Australia 139,071 127,018
Export 164,073 133,375
Total Volume Collected by Industry 496,631 494,142
Recovery as % of newsprint consumed 72.8 72.4

Commitment 2. To remove from the waste stream 250,000 tonnes annually of publication grade paper by the year ending December 2005.

Progress Report For Year Ending December 2002:

Source Tonnes Collected
2002 2001
Publisher Group Old Newspapers (ONP) 81,171 79,411
Publisher Group Old Magazines (OMG) 49,190 51,125
Norske Skog kerbside collections of ONP & OMG 58,993 63,846
Norske Skog other Magazine 5,886 7,925
Total collections by Newsprint Producer/Publisher Group 195,240 202,307

Year 1 in Review
Commitment 1. Consumption of newsprint and total recovery of old newspapers remained largely unchanged for Australia in 2002. The old newspaper-recycling rate in Australia did record a marginally higher result of 72.8%, up from 72.4% in 2001. This is the highest reported in the world, even above the high performing United States of America. When we take into account the seven per cent, which is unrecoverable with paper destroyed in uses like lighting fires, garden weed mats and compost and paint dro‌p sheets, we are up to nearly 80% recycling.

Recycling rates improved throughout the 1990s and as the figures rose over 60%, the rate started to plateau, reflecting the maturity of the recycling collection industry. Now, with recycling at a high, every small increment in the old newspaper-recycling rate represents a major achievement. Statistically, a recognized good result is if 80% of people recycle 80% of their newspapers giving a recycling rate of 64%. Even taking the materials contributed from pressroom waste and publisher returns, the 2002 post-consumer collection was 69.2%, which could equate to 80% of people recycling almost 90% of their newspapers.

This fits with statistics showing that about 80% of households take part in kerbside recycling. It also shows a high level of acceptance of recycling at the household level, with very high levels of personal involvement through sorting recyclables at home.

Commitment 2. In 2002 the Publisher/Producer Group was responsible for recovering 195,240 tonnes of old newspapers and old magazines, compared to 202,307 tonnes in 2001. This was 3.5%, or 7067 tonnes, lower than in 2001 and was caused by two factors: a. An extra 30,698 tonnes of ONP was exported in 2002, or 18.7% more than in 2001. b. Publishers achieving continuing waste reductions by improving both production techniques to lower pressroom waste, and distribution management to reduce unsold copies at newsagents.

The Norske Skog de-inking plant at the Albury newsprint mill ran at capacity using both kerbside collected material and publishers waste in the form of pressroom waste (both newsprint and magazine grades) and processed 152,571 tonnes (100,019 tonnes ONP and 52,552 OMG) to produce pulp for new newsprint making, maintaining a recycled content in the Australian-produced newsprint of between 20% and 55% (depending on the grade and paper weight).

The effect of exports on the domestic market
The use of old newspapers (ONP) in cardboard manufacture is down from 233,749 in 2001 to 193,487 in 2002 or 40,262 tonnes less, though exports are up by 75% of this difference or 30,698 tonnes. The driver for this trend is likely to be the higher export spot market prices experienced in 2002 for old newspapers, and related paper grades. The lower Australian dollar and favorable shipping rates have combined to also assist exporters.

The health of the export market is impossible to forecast accurately, but industry wisdom seems to favor continuation of attractive export opportunities into the future.

A key reason for this is competition for fibre arising from China. The effect of the decline in United States newsprint consumption of the last two years may also be influencing the old newspaper export market. To quote Resource Recycling in June 2002, "Try as they might, America's collectors of old newspapers (ONP) are having a hard time increasing recovery volumes. Simply put, fewer pounds of newspaper are available for recycling... Some newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times, had a circulation decline of more than 5 percent. Circulation of the nation's top-selling paper -- USA Today -- declined 3.4%."

The result is that less ONP is likely to be available from the USA. This trend in the US contrasts with growth in newsprint consumption and manufacture in Asia. Asian newsprint capacity has grown from 8.6 million tonnes a year in 1998 to 10 million in 2002. This is forecast to reach 11.4 million tonnes in 2005. Virtually all Asian newsprint manufacture uses ONP as a significant part of the fibre component.

The other 9,564 tonnes lost to the export market from 2001 to 2002 went into the 'Other uses' category which includes home insulation, egg cartons, kitty litter and minor uses, as well as some which was taken up by the embryonic 'alternative waste technologies.'

What happens to recovered newspapers
The cardboard industry in Australia continues to consume most of the kerbside collections with 193,487 tonnes, though down on the 233,749 tonnes in 2001.
Exports, mainly to South-east Asia where it goes into new newsprint, jumped from 133,375 tonnes in 2001, but still short of the record of 177,741in 2000.
New newsprint produced by Norske Skog at its Albury (NSW) and Boyer (Tasmania) mills took 97,934 tonnes of the ONP plus OMG from kerbside collections and publishers' printing waste.
Paper products including kitty litter, house insulation, and egg cartons used up the remaining 41,137 tonnes collected, though of this about 8000 tonnes went into compost in Western Australia.
The increasing use of commingled collection systems is increasing cross contamination of ONP/OMG and sees more going into waste. This also has seen Materials Recovery Facilities producing 'mixed paper' rather than the higher quality ONP 7 and ONP 8 grades necessary for higher level re-use into new newsprint.

Exporters report a growing demand from South-east Asia and the rapidly expanding markets in China for the 'mixed paper' grade, which will be separated at destinations with lower cost sorting facilities. Even the appreciation of the Australia dollar is believed to be unlikely to stem the growing demand from China, and in the near future, from India.

This is reducing the value of the newspaper and magazine stock and does not give the best added value for the recyclables. Worse still, this means ONP and OMG will be lost to new newsprint manufacture in Australia.

Norske Skog Australasia is investigating several options to increase its newsprint capacity in Australia. These options include a proposal to increase the capacity of the Albury paper mill from 220,000 tonnes to 265,000 tonnes. These options would also involve modifying the existing recycling and de-inking plant to increase its Recovered Paper consumption from 170,000 tonnes to 195,000 tonnes.

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