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Newspaper Group at Odds with Recycling Bill: National Newspaper Association Opposes Federal Bill Requiring Larger Papers to Use Specified Amounts of Recycled Newsprint

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Newspaper Group at Odds with Recycling Bill: National Newspaper Association Opposes Federal Bill Requiring Larger Papers to Use Specified Amounts of Recycled Newsprint

Article excerpt

NATIONAL NEWSPAPER Association chairman Sam Griffin opposed an environmental consortium's backing of federal legislation requiring larger newspapers to use specified amounts of recycled newsprint.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Women Voters, Sierra Club, National Audubon Society and U.S. Public Interest Research Group urged the House Energy and Commerce Committee to support a proposal that requires newspapers with average daily circulations of 200,000 or more to use newsprint containing at least 35% recycled fiber.

In its letter to committee members, the consortium said the current aggregate average recycled content of U.S. newspapers stands at 16%.

Michigan Democrat John Dingell, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, offered the provision as an amendment to the interstate waste bill (H.R. 4779), which passed the Transportation and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee last month.

The week after the subcommittee's vote, Tennessee Democrat Jim Cooper asked Dingell to withdraw his mandatory recycling provision. While agreeing with its goal, Cooper said he believed the amendment would lead to increased publishing costs for small and medium-sized newspapers that use or wish to use recycled newsprint. He noted predictions that prices for recycled-content newsprint will be driven up by a demand that surpasses supply.

The environmental groups, however, contend that the amendment will help strengthen markets for collected newsprint. To that end, it said, the National Conference of Mayors supports the Dingell amendment, in the expectation that it could help relieve local government of some it $1.5 billion in annual waste disposal costs.

The consortium said the amendment was crafted to avoid imposing an "onerous" mandate, especially by exempting the smaller papers that contribute less to the waste stream, usually outside of major cities.

Denying assertions that the provision would not adversely affect smaller newspapers, Griffin, publisher of the Bainbridge (Ga.) Post-Searchlight said, "The environmental groups are seriously misleading Congress if they are pretending that newsprint mills are going to restructure themselves to make one kind of newsprint for big papers and another kind for small papers."

In a prepared statement, Griffin said mandating fiber content will "funnel old newspapers into regulated instead of free markets," "inevitably" increasing production costs. …

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