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Waste Paper

Volume 174: debated on Tuesday 12 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the factors underlying the drop in price for used newspapers; whether he has any plans to assist local authority and charity waste paper collection systems to be maintained during the present difficulties; and if he will make a statement.

The main factor causing the drop in price of certain grades of waste paper appears to have been a simple matter of supply and demand: collection of waste paper by volunteers and the trade has increased more quickly than production capacity capable of using waste paper as a feedstock. There is no evidence of any substantial level of imports of waste paper. Government intervention to maintain the price of waste paper through subsidising collection costs or other means could be ineffective or damaging since paper is an internationally traded commodity and users could switch to imported supplies and there are therefore no plans to intervene. The priority must be to encourage the market for all types of recycled paper and expand industrial capacity to process waste paper. In that context I am delighted to note that Kimberley-Clarke recently announced the construction of a £37 million plant for the manufacture of tissues in Flint. My Department and the Department of Trade and Industry are specifically examining the waste paper market to assess the economic and environmental benefits of waste paper recycling, the means of collecting waste paper, what new uses for waste paper might be promoted and how demand for recycled paper might be stimulated. Government Departments are also considering their own use of paper with a view to increasing the use of recycled products wherever feasible and economic.