Australia, Circular Economy, News

Time for Australian newspaper producers to invest in creating market demand  

Australia has recorded one of the best rates of newsprint recycling globally, despite loss of offshore recycling options. The Newsprint Recovery Figures for 2019 report reveals that the proportional national recovery rate for newsprint was 68.2 per cent.

Globally, the newsprint recovery rate is included in wider paper recycling figures for many markets. In 2017, Germany cited a municipal paper recycling rate of 68 per cent and in the US, the 2018 paper recycling rate was 68.1 per cent according to the American Forest & Paper Association.

NewsMediaWorks is the peak organisation representing Australia’s leading news media publishers and, according to executive director environment Dr Tony Wilkins, “Recycling of newspapers is an Australian success story. We are near the best in the world at 68 per cent.

“However, recovery of newsprint continues to be ever more complex and fragmented with recycling markets subject to significant upheaval. Significant fires and disposals to landfill also reduced the recycling rate. In this context, the recovery rate reflects both the importance of the fibre, and the efforts of industry,” Wilkins added.

Existing systems can’t provide a solution

Waste Management Resource Recovery Association (WMMR) CEO Gayle Sloan told Inside Waste “Whilst it is recognised that globally Australia’s recovery rates are high, this is unlikely to continue, given last year’s closure of the Albury mill that used this valuable fibre.  The report also highlights year on year the reduction in consumption for ONP in Australia.

“I think the time has now come for the newspaper producers in Australia to look to see what they can do, to invest in creating market demand  for this material, as it is clear that the existing systems and infrastructure cannot alone provide a solution.  They need to step up and assist industry in taking responsibility for this material.

There is a real opportunity for ONP producers to support new emerging industries in Australia such as moulded fibre packaging and kitty litter, particularly as we know global demand and markets are also decreasing,” she said.

Legitimate form of recycling

Wilkins has also suggested the reuse of newspapers and magazines by consumers be recognised as a legitimate form of recycling citing previous research indicating around 7.7 per cent of newspapers are reused in the home. When this figure is added to the recycling rate, the total recovery increases to 76 per cent.

While the report notes significant growth for moulded paper products made from old newspapers such as egg cartons, as well as stable growth in pet products including kitty litter, support for improving the quality of newspapers collected from households will also help to meet the need for continued export of recovered paper.

Collection methods that require the separation of paper and other recyclable items as well as container deposit schemes will help to reduce contamination from household recycling collections.