The paper recycling industry is confronted by a paradox. On the one hand environmentalists, the government and the community are placing pressure on the industry to increase its output of paper containing high levels of recycled fibre. On the other hand the only paper that is currently available for large scale recycling and is not already used for that purpose in Australia is newsprint.
The current glut of waste newsprint on the Australian market has been attributed to two factors:
(i) Exceptionally high recovery rates due to enthusiastic participation by a more environmentally aware public.
(ii) A fall in the price of waste newsprint on the Asian markets, a problem brought about by u.s. subsidised wastepaper flooding those markets, an action prompted by fast filling landfill sites in that country.
Australia is the only industrialised country in the world that does not use any recycled newsprint in the production of new newsprint.
The objective of this report is to determine whether or not more paper recycling can be carried out in Australia. Current factors affecting supply of wastepaper and demand for recycled paper products are examined and current recycling activities and market structures are analysed. Existing proposals have been reviewed in the light of existing legal, environmental and economic constraints.
The main recommendation of this report for, the short term, is for a strategy of identifying a market considered too small by U.S. exporters but large by Australian standards, and focusing export efforts on that market. For the long term, a reassessment of resource valuation techniques is recommended, with long term environmental impacts being included in cost benefit analyses of proposed projects.