Using accepted international standards of Life Cycle Analysis, the research found that as well as having a lesser environmental impact recycling newspapers is cheaper, costing£19 per tonne compared to£24 per tonne for incineration.
Other benefits included:
- For every 1,000 tonnes of paper recycled 13.4 permanent full-time jobs are created compared to 3.6 if incinerated.
- Transport associated with recycling used newspapers makes a relatively insignificant contribution to emissions.
- More British newsprint recycling capacity would displace imports of newsprint and reduce the need for landfill as new mills would make use of the newspaper currently sent to landfill.
The report concluded that as both recycling and incineration can be used, prioritisation is the key. Recycling can be better when fibre is recoverable and incineration chosen when fibre can no longer be re-used to enable value to be recovered in the form of energy.
Summarised in a 10-page A4 colour booklet, the research also states annual consumption grew by 650,000 tonnes between 1990 and 1997 to 2.5 million tonnes and is set to continue at an average of 2 per cent a year.
It highlighted the average recycled content of UK newsprint is well over 90 per cent - approaching the limit of current capacity. This, it said, can be bettered by improving the local recycling infrastructure to recover the 5 million newspaper and paper products placed in landfill every year and encouraging more investment in domestic paper production.
Jaakko Pöyry Consulting (UK) Ltd, the Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (CSERGE) and Economics For The Environment Consultancy (EFTEC) completed the investigation.
Useful websites: www.paper.org.uk and www.ppic.org.uk
The Paper Federation is the association representing the UK paper and board industry.