It is estimated that over 700,000 tonnes of paper and paper products are sent to landfill in NSW each year. In the 2006/07 financial year Australians used approximately 1.72 million tonnes of printing and writing paper (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (2007) 'Australian Commodity Statistics 2007') . This consumption is equivalent to over 40 million trees - or just under two trees per person - as one tonne of virgin office paper requires the equivalent of 24 trees (Dolphin Blue).
The data reported by NSW government agencies in 2007 indicates that 79 per cent of paper and cardboard was separated and recycled. There are still over 4,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard going to landfill from government agencies. The Department will continue to work with agencies to both increase the proportion recycled and reduce the total amount generated.
The NSW Government purchased around four million reams of paper (copy paper and publications paper) in 2006-07. Currently, a lot of this paper does not contain recycled content. Certain purchasing targets have been set for agencies as a minimum requirement under the NSW Government Sustainability Policy. A minimum of 85 per cent of all copy paper purchased by NSW Government in 2014 must contain recycled content. All agencies, from the commencement of the 2008/09 financial year, must specify inclusion of at least one recycled content option as part of each publication quote sought. The WRAPP aims to significantly increase the amount of recycled content paper bought by government agencies.
Recycled content paper is now quality, performance and cost competitive with virgin fibre paper. The Know Your Paper Guide and Know Your Printing Paper Guide provide more information on the range of recycled paper available for general office use and publications and general information about paper recycling.
Agencies are also encouraged to implement measures to reduce their overall paper use. Buying recycled content paper saves trees, energy and water, as well as reducing the waste going to landfill through providing a market for recycled materials. Recycling paper also helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create employment. Buying recycled paper should be part of your overall environmental strategy.
The WRAPP gets government agencies to focus on four categories of office paper:
- A3 and A4 copy paper
- All other office paper
- Printing paper for publications
Agencies are also encouraged to consider recycled content options for other stationery items, such as suspension files and notepads.
- Identify opportunities to substitute virgin paper with a recycled content alternative e.g. stationery products, general office printing and photocopier paper.
- Test recycled content paper products in different machines for a set period and then review the paper's performance. You may need to run a trial of recycled paper to convince staff that the quality is just as good as virgin material.
- Ask suppliers about which recycled content paper products they stock.
- Change your paper supply contract to require supply of recycled content paper where possible.
- Limit the variety of stationery lines available and use recycled content products where available.
- Investigate options to use e-business systems to avoid paper consumption. Online systems can save you time and money.
- Discuss with suppliers the possibility of reducing or reusing surplus packaging.
- Reduce the frequency of stationery orders to reduce the number of delivery boxes and courier trips
- Avoid over-specification, such as requiring high brightness paper for publications, focus on the function of the material.
- In some cases, recycled content products may be slightly more expensive. If you implement waste avoidance and recovery practises as part of your WRAPP Plan, the savings will offset the additional cost.
- Reuse single sided writing, photocopy and computer paper for staff note pads. Set up central paper banks for collecting paper printed only on one side for reusing.
- Improve filing and document management systems, especially where drafts need to be reviewed several times and chronological copies need to be kept. Keep hard copies in a central file.
- Set up central paper banks for collecting paper printed only on one side for reusing.
- Review draft documents on the screen using editing functions on your word processor. Exchange drafts electronically. (e.g. "Track Changes")
- Print more words per page.
- Use internet publishing and electronic forms to reduce paper copies (including letterhead). Intranets (websites accessible by employees only) can be established to review and comment on major documents.
- Use double-sided (duplex) printing for memos, letters, reports and other documents. Only print when it is absolutely necessary.
- Learn how to use paper-saving printer options on your word processor, printer and photocopier such as multipage or 'two-up' printing.
- Use email instead of faxes, this saves paper both ends.
- Use email and intranets for internal communications.
- Use overhead projectors and whiteboards in meetings and limit handouts.
- Reuse envelopes for internal mail.
- Scan incoming correspondence and store electronically then recycle the original (can't be done if originals need to be kept as records).
- Avoid direct marketing lists and cancel unwanted subscriptions.
- Circulate documents, periodicals and reports rather than making individual copies.
- Refer to Waste Reduction in Office Buildings for posters for your office to remind staff of sustainable practices
- Do occasional rapid visual surveys of office waste and recycling bins to check for problems e.g. recyclable paper in waste bins or non-recyclable waste in the recycling bins. Use survey results to focus waste education messages.
- Audit quantities of paper used and disposed of by different offices.
- Ensure cleaners know how your office waste and recycling systems work and are actively supporting these.
- Check with building management what local recycling services are available.
- Position recycling bins near photocopiers, printers and other places where waste paper is generated.
- Install small desk recycling bins for paper printed on one side which can be reused (e.g. bound into notepads).
- Separate white paper from other paper colours and types (e.g. cardboard) where possible.
- Run staff education programs on how office waste management and recycling system work. Include this program in staff induction programs.
- Find alternative uses for shredded paper if no recycling services are available e.g. donate to local zoos, vets or wildlife centres as animal bedding; or compost or mulch paper.
- Tell suppliers to provide products in minimal packaging or take back used packaging (especially computer boxes).
- Have supplies delivered in reusable crates which are taken back by the supplier.
- Old or outdated letter head is excellent for notepads .
- Put stickers over addresses on envelopes and file tabs so they can be used again.
Page last updated: 27 February 2011