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Why Paper Is New Zealand’s Natural Choice

19th May 2008

Why Paper Is New Zealand’s Natural Choice

A new report published today by the New Zealand Paper Forum illustrates why paper is the natural choice for our environment, economy and society. It shows that against all three sustainability indicators, paper has an excellent story to tell.

According to new research conducted by Infometrics, 73% of the total paper and paperboard consumed in New Zealand is recycled into packaging, newsprint and other paper products either at a New Zealand based mill or overseas .

Joan Grace, Executive Director of Print NZ says that New Zealand’s paper industry is already one of the world’s leading recyclers:

“Globally, the average rate of paper collection is around 50%. The European average is 63% whilst some European leaders such as Finland have a 70% recovery rate. Put in the context of this our own 73% rate is world class.”

“It’s also hard to keep improving because up to 19% of paper is actually non-collectable and non-recyclable by virtue of its use. If you think about paper used to produce books or archive materials for example – these aren’t going to be recycled - and incidentally have the added benefit that they retain carbon for up to 10 years. Paper is also used in construction materials; used in people’s homes for lighting fires, composting or as painting drop sheets.”

“Once you start considering what can’t be recovered or recycled, we are looking at a maximum theoretical recycling rate of around 81% instead of 100%.”

The Paper Forum’s report is planned as part of a series of updates to the paper industry and stakeholders including local and central government. Ms Grace says she hopes the report encourages people to reflect on paper’s contribution to society after almost 150 years of paper production in New Zealand:

“Try thinking of a day without paper: no newspaper, no juice carton, no bank notes, no letters, no paper in the office, no boxes for storage or magazines and books. We all keep talking about the paperless office but it remains our preferred means of recording evidence and history.”

The whole paper industry including forestry and wood processing represents 4% of GDP, employs 150,000 people and is New Zealand’s 3rd largest export market. The full report is available at


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