News commits to sustainable newsprint practices

News Corp has launched a Global Paper Policy that will ensure its newsprint is sourced, used and recycled responsibly, as part of a push to publicly commit to sustainable practices.

The new policy follows the launch earlier this year of News Corp’s Global Environment Initiative (GEI), under which it is establishing new visions and goals on sustainability.

It is, as News Corp Australia’s Head of Environment Dr Tony Wilkins puts it, an era in which News is “putting its money where its mouth is”.

Dr Wilkins said the Global Environment Initiative has three pillars: reduce, engage and source responsibly.  “The Global Paper Policy sits under the ‘source responsibly’ pillar,” he said.

The Global Paper Policy (GPP) addresses responsibility in two areas: paper sourcing and paper use and recycling. “Having a paper policy puts our commitment out there.”

A key feature of the GPP will ensure all of the newsprint News uses has chain of custody certification – meaning the mills from which it sources its paper will be certified by independent bodies including the Forest Stewardship Council, Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, Sustainable Forest Initiative and Canadian Standards Association.

The vast majority of News Corp Australia paper is produced by supplier and manufacturer Norske Skog, which has a recycling and production plant in Albury, NSW.

“It’s terrific that we have a really responsible supplier and manufacturer of our paper in Australia, Norske Skog,” Dr Wilkins said.

“What we really want to do is ensure that chain of custody, so we know exactly where all that fibre comes from.”

Excluded will be fibre that is illegally harvested, be it from endangered forests or Indonesian tropical forests; from mixed tropical hardwood; or from Acacia and Ramin trees, native to Australia.

“We’re committed to pine plantations, and they’re more productive than a lot of native trees,” Dr Wilkins said. “In Australia, all our Australian-made newsprint is made from plantation pine forests or recycled fibre. We have not used old growth since October 1991, and no native trees are used either.

“Across the world, News Corp uses recycled fibre.”

News Corp Australia established its Environment Department in 1990 to advance newspaper recycling.

Major newspaper publishers in Australia are now obliged under the National Environmental Sustainability Agreement to include recycled content in their paper.

“We’re actually putting our money where our mouth is and supporting recycling by buying recycled product,” Dr Wilkins said. “We want to see a good reuse of our newspapers.”

He says the best newsprint ideally has a mixture of virgin paper and recycled fibre. Norske Skog typically produces a ratio of 20 to 40 per cent recycled fibre, varying according to fluctuations in fibre and wood quality.

“It turns out by pure technical chance that paper with recycled content out of Albury has some advantages over virgin paper, so we wouldn’t want to go back,” he said.

These advantages include more opaque paper – thanks to clay provided by magazines in the recycling process – which add a further environmental benefit by requiring one third less ink.

Dr Wilkins said: “We are doing the right thing. Having our paper verified as chain of custody certified validates it. I think it will reinforce and give confidence to people when they buy their newspaper that it’s sustainable. It’s not something to feel guilty about.”

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