Our Product’s Life Cycle: Recycling

Newspapers are managing their product throughout its life-cycle – from forest to breakfast table and beyond

Recycling may be a relatively new phenomenon in some communities, but it has been a paper industry tradition in Canada for 200 years from the time when paper was made from rags. In 1805, linen and cotton rags were collected in Montreal and Québec City then shipped to Canada’s first paper mill in St. Andrew’s, Québec to be used in the production of newsprint and wrapping paper.

DID YOU KNOW? Canada is a global leader in waste paper recovery, with some of the highest rates of waste diversion of old newspapers in the world. Canadians recycle 80% of their newsprint. In many provinces, newspapers partner with governments and waste management agencies to get the job done – a planet-smart strategy!

Newspapers will continue to play an important role in the community as champions of recycling, not just for old newspapers, but for new materials as they are added to the waste diversion stream.

Some newspaper recycling facts:

  • The Blue Box program began as a pilot project in Kitchener, Ontario, in 1981;
  • Ontario 1986: the provincial government reimbursed municipalities for a portion of their operation costs (labour, gasoline, etc.) for their Blue Box Programs (BBP);
  • Ontario, October 1998: the Minister of the Environment (MOE) announced his plan to call on industry (producers) to contribute to the Blue Box Program costs;
  • Early in 2000, governments across the country were legislating waste recovery (and recycling) programs and approaching industry to contribute to the costs of recovering materials. Municipalities wanted “stewards”, the producers of materials that ended up in the waste stream, to contribute financially to the programs;
  • As the green movement took on steam, there was a significant increase in the number of government initiatives on recycling and waste diversion. The number of materials entering waste recovery and recycling programs increased exponentially (electronics, hazardous waste, tires, etc.), resulting in increased program costs and municipalities moving towards “Extended Producer Responsibility” (EPR) requesting industry to cover up to 100% of costs.

In Canada, all levels of government have been involved in waste diversion and recycling, although the timelines and tactics vary considerably from province to province.

For more information on newspaper recycling in Canada visit www.newspaperscanada.ca/public-affairs/recycling

DID YOU KNOW? Recycling is an integral part of newsprint production. Raw materials are used to create newsprint: wood chips (fibre), recycled newspapers and virgin fibre from sustainable sources. Residual wood chips (fibre), are by-products which remain after sawmills have optimized the cutting of logs into lumber.

Newsprint cannot be produced by using recycled fibre alone. Each time paper is recycled, the fibres become progressively shorter and weaker and after two to seven cycles, are no longer useful. Therefore, a key component of North America’s paper fibre cycle is fresh (or virgin) fibre from sustainably managed forests. Newspapers are also exploring the use of non-wood agricultural residues.

The key to achieving the environmental and economic benefits of recycling is to keep the material circulating for as many product lives as possible. This is the closed loop that reduces the need for virgin materials, thus avoiding the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions associated with primary materials extraction, transportation and processing.

The quality of recovered paper is a critical element in any successful recycling program. The paper must be free of contaminants such as food, plastics, metals and wax. The presence of these contaminants results in higher costs to the recycling mills, municipalities and paper stock dealers.

– “Understanding economic and environmental impacts of single-stream collection systems”, Container Recycling Institute, December 2009

A successful recycling program is dependent upon securing markets for the recovered paper. The market can be a mill using recovered paper to manufacture recycled-content paper, newsprint or a paper stock dealer acting as an intermediary between the municipality and the consuming mill.

– Paper Recycling Association

DID YOU KNOW? Most people, and perhaps most local officials, assume that all recycled items go to their best use. They are shocked to learn that about 35 per cent of the materials they dutifully put in a recycling bin in fact wind up in a landfill, due to contamination from broken glass and liquid waste from food and drink containers.



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