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Release Date: 4/21/2000
Contact Information: Leo Kay, U.S. EPA, 415-744-2201

     By Felicia Marcus, EPA Region 9 Administrator

Since its inception roughly 25 years ago, the recycling movement has changed the way Americans look at  trash.  We have come to realize that recycling old stuff, whether it be plastic, paper, glass or even other materials such as old computers and discarded tires, provides us with the smartest and most sensible approach to overcome the damages wrought by our practices as a throw away society.  Our landfills are bulging at the seams.  We have taken a great toll on our natural resources.  And we don't seem to be buying any less.

A quick look through any garbage can will show that paper remains the most common material found in our trash. Yet improvements in paper reclamation technology, along with government support of this industry, have combined to make buying recycled paper just as cheap and convenient as it is to buy virgin paper.  For its part, the federal government has led the charge in trying to bring recycled paper into the mainstream.  Thanks to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, all federal agencies are required to purchase recycled products.  In addition, President Clinton signed an executive order in 1998 that called for an increase in the government's use of recycled-content products.  Yet the federal government only buys 2 percent of the copier paper used in the United States, so now we are focusing our efforts on getting the business world to follow suit.  This is where Solana Recyclers comes in.  We recently gave a grant to the San Diego-based non-profit group to explore ways to increase the use of recycled paper in the public and private sectors.  Solana Recyclers has devised a great program that allow business and industry to help green the economy without going in the red.

Solana Recyclers' Recycled Paper Purchasing Cooperative works to provide high quality recycled paper at prices that meet or beat a company or public entity's existing price for virgin fiber paper.  The overall volume that the co-op represents has motivated the paper supplier to provide 30 percent postconsumer recycled paper at significantly reduced rates.  Even though co-op members are in different locations and aren't necessarily buying in bulk, the distributor has still agreed to adhere to a pricing schedule that makes it possible to buy recycled without paying more.

The purchasing process is easy.  Interested parties should contact Solana Recyclers to discuss volume, delivery and pricing.  Once a pricing schedule is established, Solana Recyclers submits a first order and then gives the member a purchasing number.  This number guarantees the co-op's discount pricing and is used to buy paper direct through the supplier for all future orders.

The facts speak for themselves on the needs for and benefits of promoting recycled paper:  Right now, recycled paper only represents about 9 percent of the printing and writing paper market. Nearly half the trees in North America go to paper making.  The Department of Conservation estimates that for every ton of 30 percent postconsumer paper purchased, eight full grown trees are saved.  Given the environmental stakes at hand, we can't afford not to push the envelope on buying recycled paper.

We can all do more to increase the use of recycled paper. So the next time you stock up on paper for your printer, copy machine, cafeteria or restrooms, buy recycled.  By doing this, you're helping to create a demand for the used office paper, old newspapers and boxes we recycle every day.  At the same time you are helping preserve natural habitat all over the world. For more information on this issue, call Solana Recyclers at (760)436-7986 or visit the web site at: ""