Newsprint markets and purchasing paths are considerably different
from those for printing and writing papers.
Canada is the world's largest producer of newsprint, and the U.S.
is the largest consumer.
It's primarily a closed system, with the US and Canada supplying
each other rather than buying from other countries. Huge new production
facilities for newsprint using recovered paper have come
online in Asia over the past several years, with most of the output intended for China's own domestic use. The old newsprint (ONP) used for the recycled content, however, comes largely from North America, with some imported from Europe and Japan, as well.
The Newspaper Association of America reports that 35% of old newspapers were collected for recycling in 1989 but that percentage increased to more than 73% by 2008.
Newsprint manufacturers made a sea change in the late 1980s when
several mills added deinking capacity. Since then, the recycling
rate for newspapers has doubled.
The shift was driven by laws passed in several states, and voluntary
agreements negotiated in others, requiring newsprint consumers -
primarily major market newspapers - to buy recycled newsprint. Since 2000,
some of the voluntary agreements have stalled or been dismantled.
The new deinking technology that these mills installed also created
a market for coated paper from recycled magazines and catalogs.
Their clay coatings help remove the ink from the recycling system
after it has been separated from the recovered newspapers.
Now, the Newspaper Association of America reports, the amount of recycled content in newspapers averaged 10% of the fiber in 1989 but 35% by 2008.
Bales of newspapers and printing plant trimmings collected for
manufacturing recycled content products are divided into the following
ONP #9 - Over-Issue News
Newsprint that is unused and undistributed newspapers. No prohibitives
(materials that make the recovered paper unusable for the intended
product, or that damage equipment) or outthrows (types of paper
unsuitable for making the intended product) allowed. This is clearly
a preconsumer grade.
ONP# 8 - Special News Deinking Quality
Quality sorted, fresh, not sumburned newspapers. No magazine paper
(OMG) allowed, no prohibitives, and less than .0025 outthrows.
ONP #7 - News Deinking Quality
Sorted, fresh, not sunburned newspapers. May contain magazine paper
(OMG). No prohibitives are allowed, and less than .0025 outthrows.
ONP #6 - News
Typically generated by newsdrives and curbside collection programs.
Less than 1% prohibitives and less than 5% outthrows. This is clearly
a postconsumer grade.
Local governments across the U.S. are increasingly turning to "single
stream" collection of residential - and sometimes commercial
- recyclables. This system allows people to throw all recyclables
- bottles, cans, plastics and paper - into one recycling cart. The
materials are then sorted out at a "materials resource facility,"
or MRF. Newsprint mills, among others, are reporting growing difficulties
using fiber from this type of collection system. See Conservatree's
report for more discussion of this issue.
DEFINITIONS AND STANDARDS
There is some discrepancy in the meaning of "recycled content"
in newspapers. In its 1988 Comprehensive Purchasing Guidelines for
federal agency purchasing, EPA required a minimum of 40% postconsumer
fiber in newsprint, consistent with the requirements of several
of the states pushing recycled newsprint laws or agreements at the
time. But in its 1995 revisions to the paper purchasing requirements,
EPA dropped its minimum for newsprint to 20%. The reason, EPA staff
said, was because surveys of paper manufacturers indicated that
the actual amount of postconsumer they were using averaged only
20%, with the rest of the recycled content made up of preconsumer
printing and converting scraps.
California had encouraged some of the confusion when it passed
its mandatory law requiring newsprint purchasers within the state
to buy recycled newsprint with steadily increasing amounts of postconsumer,
but defined the term "postconsumer" differently in that
legislation than anywhere else. All other "postconsumer"
references in California law were consistent with the then-coalescing
nationwide agreement on a definition limiting "postconsumer"
to materials that had been discarded by an end-user. But California's
newsprint law defined postconsumer as also including printers' scraps,
despite their categorization as preconsumer under all other definitions.
Our conversations with newsprint mill representatives indicate
that they are now, in fact, not tracking postconsumer content at
all. Instead, they report their recycled fiber use by the paperstock
scrap categories specified by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries
(ISRI). Most say they use #8 and #7 news, which may be a varying
mix of both preconsumer and postconsumer fibers.
Almost 80% of newsprint production in North America is consumed
by daily newspapers. Because of this, some major publishers such
as the Washington Post and Advance Publications own equity
interest in newsprint mills or own a paper machine within a mill.
However this relationship was more common in the past as newspapers
tried to secure sources of newsprint. Times-Mirror (Los Angeles
Times) sold their interest in a newsprint mill in Oregon some
years ago, and recently Media General removed their equity stake
in newsprint mill ownership. Still, the cost of newsprint is a major
expense for the daily newspapers and this demand will continue to
be the major driver in newsprint production. Daily newspapers by
and large have direct purchasing relationships with the newsprint
mills or through broker arrangements.
For the balance of newsprint end users - weekly newspapers, advertising
inserts, flyers, newspaper supplements, and campus newspapers -
the paper is obtained through commercial printers, or in some cases
through broker arrangements if the purchase is large enough. Large
commercial printers with web press operations usually stock newsprint
as a standard item for customers who produce shopper guides and
local entertainment newspapers.
Newsprint is sold in web rolls and is usually not an item
sold by the standard distributors who handle Printing and Writing
grades. Some Newsprint is sold as a consumer item, such as newsprint
sketch pads at art supply stores. (Brand names of recycled content
newsprint sketch pads include Canson or Bienfang.) Packaging supply
stores also normally sell newsprint for packing material in bundles
of 50 pounds of 24" x 36" sheets. Typically these sheets are not
suitable for sheetfed printing presses.
is the most common newsprint grade, used to print most newspapers.
Colored News offers pastel shades for special identification
of a specific section of a newspaper such as sports or entertainment.
However, the recent practice of four-color process printing has
allowed newspapers to create this identification by using the color
of the ink rather than the color of the paper. Thus the newspaper
can buy one standard paper stock and add attractions through full
color printing. The market for colored newsprint will therefore
likely shift to paper for directory production such as "yellow pages"
is groundwood paper of higher brightness, basis weight and better
quality surface finish than Standard News. This paper reproduces
higher quality four-color process images and is used for advertising
inserts. It is often found on the outer few (wrap) pages of weekly
metropolitan newspapers. Many local newspapers find easier access
to Improved Newsprint through commercial printers than Standard
Newsprint. Therefore, many community newspapers print their publication
on Improved Newsprint. This grade is sometimes referred to as "High
Specialty News (Groundwood
Specialties) is used for advertising materials, particularly
newspaper inserts. These papers are often supercalendered or coated
for four-color press printing. A familiar use is for the many advertising
pieces and coupons that are inserted into major Sunday newspapers.
is used for the production of items such as telephone books and
NEWSPRINT BASIS WEIGHTS
The weight of newsprint grades is likely to be found expressed
as a measurement of Standard Basis Weight (e.g. 30 lb.), however,
because of the expanding international market for newsprint and
the recent change in ownership of many North American mills to multi-national
paper companies, increasingly the measurement is by GSM (grams per
square meter) (e.g. 48.8 gsm). The measurement weight of the paper
depends on the practice of the producing mill.
Comparison of Standard and Metric Measurements
Basis Weight (pounds)
Grammage (grams per square meter, GSM)