Bill to push recycling looms for newsprint mills

The last Private Member's Bill on an environmental topic introduced in the House of Commons before the general election would have required all newspapers to contain at least 60% recycled fibre within four years. Its promoter has promised to reintroduce it in the next Parliament.

The Newsprint Recycling Bill was introduced in the Commons on 2 March by Harry Cohen (Lab, Leyton).1 It failed to receive a second reading, but newsprint producers and newspaper publishers have been put on notice that the issue may well come more strongly to the fore after the general election.

Mr Cohen's six-clause Bill would make it an offence to import or use newsprint with a recycled fibre content of less than 60% four years after its entry into force. It would also amend section 48(6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to allow grants to be paid to waste collection authorities which provide plant and equipment for deinking and repulping of newsprint.

The Bill was introduced shortly after the Government released figures showing that the average recycled content of all UK newspapers in 1990 was 26.8%.2 The data were compiled by the Pulp & Paper Information Centre following last September's voluntary agreement by newspaper publishers to increase the proportion of waste paper in newsprint to 40% by 2000 - provided the product was available at "competitive" prices (ENDS Report 200, p 13).

Commenting on the agreement, Mr Cohen said that "the 40% minimum requirement is far too low; the year 2000 is far too late; and there is no law to enforce it." His Bill, he said, would provide the stable market needed to encourage waste paper collection schemes and investment in recycling plant.

The 60% requirement written into the Bill was taken by Mr Cohen from Friends of the Earth, which claims that the use of newsprint made wholly from recycled fibre is technically possible. A survey carried out by the group showed that 12 local newspapers already use 100% recycled fibre, while 106 titles have a recycled content of over 60%.

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