Ben Bradshaw made the comment when visiting M-reals New Thames mill at Kemsley, near Sittingbourne in Kent after seeing all stages of the recycling process from delivery of waste paper to its transformation into new A4 sheets for office and home use.
He said: The amount of recovered paper handled by the mill is sufficient to fill five Royal Albert Halls a year. Not only is it an important achievement to divert that volume of waste from landfill, but the end product is helping avoid the use of virgin resources.
The mill is also setting an example through initiatives in waste collection, environmental standards and in finding uses for its own waste. This joined-up approach is something Id like to see more sectors striving for.
Bradshaw was shown around the M-real New Thames site by company officials and witnessed all stages of the process including the removal of printing inks, sticky substances and other unwanted materials which are collectively known as sludge.
This is a useful product in its own right and its uses include construction boards, soil conditioner and bedding at worm farms.
Mill manager Howard Emmett said: It is a great honour to have hosted a visit by Mr Bradshaw at a time when recycling is so high on the agenda.
We are keen to expand, we have the capacity to handle more waste than at present, and there is more and more demand for recycled papers. So we are encouraged by the ministers support for our efforts and in continuing to play a part in meeting recycling targets.