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Feature: Latest views on yesterday's news

A project to investigate the opportunities and barriers to using recycled content paper in the UK's magazine publication and print industry has been launched.

If successful, it is hoped that the work could help stimulate demand and increase recycled paper content in magazine production. It could also encourage further investment in recycled magazine paper mills.

Funded by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the work is due to take place in two phases, with the aim of giving publishers the information and confidence to extend their use of recycled content paper for appropriate titles.

The first phase will gather essential information on available papers, collate existing print and publishing experience, review current title types for potential sustainability and identify opportunities for commercial trials.

If sufficient potential is identified in phase one, then a second phase will be taken forward to run pilot and commercial scale trials and develop case studies.

David Adams, WRAP's paper product manager, says: "We're really pleased that the amount of paper recovered in the UK is rapidly growing, but in parallel to this we need to continue to identify additional opportunities for this raw material. This is particularly true for recovered magazine and office grades because the potential for further increases in usage in newsprint and tissue manufacture are finite. This new research is at the heart of WRAP's key objective - creating markets for recycled resources."

Pira International, a commercial consultancy that specialises in the printing, packaging, paper, plastics, publishing and consumer goods industries, has been appointed to conduct phase one of the project with guidance from a steering group with representation from the Periodicals Publishers Association (PPA), the Confederation of Paper Industries, publishers, printers and paper mills to ensure industry input.

The PPA's membership consists of almost 400 publishing companies, which together publish more than 2,260 consumer, business and professional magazines, representing more than 80% of the magazine industry. PPA director of public and legal affairs David Thomas says he is pleased that WRAP is putting resources into identifying the practicalities of using papers with recycled content in magazines.

"There are significant barriers to increasing use," he says, "and this study will identify the real issues, allowing publishers to make informed choices on the value of recycled content papers. At the same time, the PPA remains committed to increasing the volume of post-consumer recycling and the use of wood from certified forests in pulp manufacture, as part of a balanced approach to environmental responsibility."

The UK consumer market currently comprises more than 1.3 billion magazines a year, excluding newspaper supplements. Although it is estimated that less than

2-3% use recycled content, publishers are said to be increasingly showing an interest in doing so, provided the quality and costs are acceptable.

Michael Sturges, head of strategic consultancy at Pira International, adds: "The magazine publishing industry continues to be a forward-thinking and responsible sector and this is reflected in the fact that it has embraced WRAP's brief. The strong relationship between Pira and the printers, publishers and other stakeholders should ensure that phase one of this work is based on the widest possible knowledge and experience from within the supply chain."

Contracts have been signed and the work has begun.

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