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Standards Ranking Recycled Paper Unveiled

March 8, 1993

NEW YORK (AP) _ About two dozen environmental groups, paper makers and other businesses said Monday they’re banding together in hopes of increasing the amount of paper being recycled in the United States.

The environmentalists and companies unveiled standards that would indicate how much recycled material is included in paper products like bags and envelopes.

The standards are part of a program to stimulate demand for paper made from the most recycled fibers possible and encourage recycling, said Alan Davis, president of Conservatree Paper Co., which helped initiate the plan.

″Despite increasing public interest, our nation’s total output of recycled printing and writing stock, the largest paper component in landfills, is stuck at virtually the same level as 15 years ago,″ Davis said.

He spoke at a New York news conference while leading paper producers, suppliers and others separately gathered for the American Forest & Paper Association’s annual meeting nearby at which recycling also was a major topic.

Davis made a distinction between what he called ″real″ and ″phony″ recycled paper and criticized the industry for overusing the recycling logo.

Resa Dimino, who monitors the paper industry for the non-profit Environmental Action Foundation, said the industry has been allowed to label their products as recycled without in some cases using any materials that have been diverted from the solid waste stream.

″They have sought and received recycling credit for simply using the same in-plant scrap they have been recovering for decades,″ she said at the news conference.

Under a new ranking and labeling system, paper would be graded based on the percentage of recycled fiber it contains, with the highest grade bestowed on paper with the greatest recycled content.

The ubiquitous three arrow recycling symbol found on paper bags and other products would be updated to designate grades A, B or C and specify percentages of total recycled fiber.

The new ranking and labeling system plus guidelines on buying recycled paper products have been endorsed by some consumer-oriented businesses such as apparel maker Patagonia, as well as several paper companies and national environmental groups including Greenpeace and the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund.

Organizations and businesses which have endorsed the voluntary program - named the Mobro Principles after an infamous barge that sailed around the world looking for a place to dump its load of New York City garbage - have pledged that three-quarters of their paper purchases will be recycled by 1995. They also promised to use the new recycled ranking on all their publications.

Meanwhile, the American Forest & Paper Association announced at its annual meeting that American paper companies are on track to surpass the industry’s goal of recovering 40 percent of all paper used in 1995.

″Our objective is to keep paper out of the landfills,″ Dick Storat, an association vice president, said in an interview. ″This year for the first time ever we will recover more paper for recycling than will go to landfills.″

The association said in 1993, 36.7 million tons of paper are expected to be recovered while an estimated 33.1 million tons will be sent to landfills.

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