Newsprint recycling remains strong at 68%

In 2019, Australians recovered 68.2% of newsprint, despite the loss of significant offshore recycling options for Australian newsprint. The annual report, released today by NewsMediaWorks was researched and prepared by IndustryEdge and is the latest annual newsprint recycling report in a series that goes back more than twenty years.

The report can be downloaded here.

NewsMediaWorks Executive Director Environment Dr Tony Wilkins said: “Recycling of newspapers is an Australian success story. We are near the best in the world at 68%. However, recovery of newsprint continues to be ever more complex and fragmented with recycling markets subject to significant upheaval. Significant fires and disposals to landfill also reduced the recycling rate. In this context, the recovery rate reflects both the importance of the fibre, and the efforts of industry.” 

One of the complexities identified by IndustryEdge is the very substantial and continuing decline in newsprint consumption. As the available material declines it becomes more difficult to identify and costs more to segregate from other materials.


Australian Newsprint Consumption: 2007 – 2019 (tonnes)

Source: NewsMediaWorks & IndustryEdge


To further support the efforts of Australian publishers, Dr Wilkins suggests the reuse of newspapers and magazines by consumers be recognised as a legitimate form of recycling. Previous research shows around 7.7% of newspapers are reused in the home. When this figure is added to the recycling rate, the total recovery increases to 76%. 

While the report notes significant growth for moulded paper products made from old newspapers such as egg cartons, as well as stable growth in pet products including kitty litter, support for improving the quality of newspapers collected from households will also help to meet the need for continued export of recovered paper.


Newsprint Consumption & Recovery Volumes & Recovery Proportion: 2007 – 2019 (tonnes & %)

Source: NewsMediaWorks & IndustryEdge


NewsMediaWorks continues to advocate for collection methods that require the separation of paper and other recyclable items as well as container deposit schemes. The organisation considers this will help to reduce contamination from household recycling collections. 


IndustryEdge undertakes extensive and continuing research and analysis of paper and paperboard consumption, production, trade and recovery for a wide variety of clients. Additional details will be provided in the June 2020 edition of Pulp & Paper Edge.

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