Byline: KELLEY PRICE
NEWSPAPER publishers across the UK are looking to cut their carbon footprint, as eco taxes begin to loom large in the industry.
For them, paper is the single biggest source of carbon emissions in the printing process. But do we need it? On Teesside, the first electronic 'newspapers' of tomorrow that could sweep paper-based products aside forever are being developed. And with the price of paper spiking this year at around pounds 420 a tonne -up from pounds 340 as oil and energy prices go through the roof and paper mill output falls - it sounds an attractive option.
But paper is also one of the easiest materials to recycle - and most newspaper in the UK today comes from non-virgin material.
Allen Palmer, group services and environmental manager for Trinity Mirror, which produces the Evening Gazette, says: "We use about 80% recycled paper for our newsprint and we go to certified paper suppliers so we know the rest is from forests that are being regenerated."
Trinity Mirror was the first media company to be awarded a Carbon Trust standard last year -one of only 12 UK companies at the time to achieve the benchmark.
Supplying the rising demand for recycled paper is Ecco Newsprint, the company behind plans for a pounds 500m recycled paper mill at Wilton.
Marcus Moir, the company's CEO, said the project would create a closed loop system, using 100% recycled paper - and keeping production entirely within the UK.
"Most newsprint already falls into the recycled category, but the UK still imports about 60% from Scandanavia, Canada and North America, which is bad for the environment," he said.
The project is currently seeking investors, but Wilton is a choice location because it has a ready provider of steam and electricity in its site owner and close neighbour, Sembcorp.
UK newsprint and directories will be the mill's main outlets, along with some exports. There are also plans, said Mr Moir, to produce one of the first recycled versions of a smooth-grade paper for magazine supplements, which is suitable for multiple printing methods.
And, he added, predictions of electronic technology taking over the industry are paper-thin.
"People have been predicting the demise of newspapers for years - a report in 1995 said by the turn of this century newspapers would be a thing of the past.
"Newspapers are a very established part of the media mix and newsprint has a strong future.
"Hand-held electronic devices may well take off, we've already seen e-books, but there will still be a place for paper products. …