News and magazine publishers care about the environment.
News/Media Alliance members have had long-standing engagement in environmental stewardship and initiatives that reflect publishers’ desire to support responsible, economically-sound environmental policies and practices related to the full lifecycles of newspaper and magazine products, all the way from raw materials to finished copies.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is an environmental policy approach that holds producers responsible for the end-of-life of their products. This can include both financial and operational responsibility and covered products may include paper and/or packaging in the legislation. This type of legislation has gained interest, particularly at the state level, and the News/Media Alliance has been actively monitoring EPR implementation in several states as well as working to ensure newspapers and magazines are exempted from new EPR proposals nationwide.
Additional expenses imposed on newspapers and magazines would deprive residents of news, with new packaging requirements or end-of-life fees making home delivery of printed newspapers and magazines unsustainably expensive. These costly burdens on industries that are already experiencing major economic disruption would not yield environmental benefit, as newspapers and magazines have been responsible environmental stewards for many years.
For more than 30 years, both newspapers and magazines have encouraged their readers to recycle. Newspapers are recycled at a rate of more than 64 percent, higher than any other product, and magazines have similar success rates while recycling 100 percent of leftover retail product. Newspapers and magazines are environmentally friendly. Newspapers use soy-based non-toxic inks, so newsprint is fully compostable and biodegrades in a matter of months. Magazines use linseed-oil-based non-toxic inks and soluble adhesives that do not contaminate or disrupt the recycling process and are similarly 100 percent biodegradable within months. Both newspapers and magazines can be recycled multiple times before the fibers become too short and weak to be reused.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, newspapers comprise 1.7 percent of municipal solid waste and magazines comprise 0.3 percent. The newspaper category also includes directories and other forms of printed paper, so the percentage of actual discarded newspapers is lower but by an unknown amount.
While already only a very small portion of municipal waste, the trend is expected to continue to less hard copy newspaper and magazine waste in the future, even without the imposition of costly new EPR fees. Retail outlets are shrinking with retail sales down. Further, the current network to collect unsold products is already very fragile without the burden of additional fees. The movement from multiple stream recycling to single stream has hurt magazine reuse rates as consumer-read “used” magazines cannot be recycled to magazine paper because of cross contamination from single stream recycling.
As overall print volumes are declining; paper manufacturers are cutting supply and repurposing printing/writing papers, and shortages are occurring. Newspapers and magazines are increasingly moving to digital; therefore, by the time an EPR system is put into place, there will be less print demand and a reduced amount entering the waste stream system, meaning even bigger fee burdens on fewer publications.