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Please Recycle This Magazine—New MPA initiative

June 22 2007 |
by Surfrider Foundation


Magazine Publishers of America, MPA, is undertaking an industry-wide public education campaign to let readers know that magazines can and should be recycled. MPA has created a pair of please recycle logos for members to prominently display in every issue of their magazines. Frequently asked Questions and Answers are below.
Questions and Answers

What is the Magazine Publishers of America Please Recycle Campaign?


The Please Recycle campaign is an industry-wide public education campaign the Magazine Publishers of America is undertaking with its member publications to get readers to recycle their magazines when they are done enjoying them. The centerpiece of the campaign is a pair of please recycle logos that MPA will be working with its members to prominently display in every issue of their magazines. The key objectives of the campaign are to overcome the lack of public awareness that magazines can be recycled in the vast majority of communities in the U.S. and, thereby, increase the percentage of used magazines that are recycled.

Why is MPA sponsoring a campaign to recycle magazines?

MPA has determined that on a nation-wide basis, there is ample capacity to accept magazines within household waste recycling programs. Most domestic curbside and drop-off recycling programs now accept magazines as well as a wide variety of other materials (e.g., catalogs, direct mail, phone books), yet awareness of this capacity and participation in these programs has lagged in many communities. Therefore, MPA believes that it is appropriate to launch a campaign to raise awareness and stimulate more widespread and consistent participation in magazine recycling activity wherever it is feasible. Today only about 20 percent of magazines are recycled from the home, even though at least two-thirds of the population has access to magazine recycling in their community. Increasing magazine recycling will reduce the amount of new fiber that must be obtained from wood, meaning that fewer trees can be harvested to produce a given quantity of paper or board product.

How can magazine publishers participate in the Please Recycle campaign?

In the next few months, MPA will be working with our sister organization, the American Society of Magazine Editors, to help teach MPA and ASME members how they can include this logo in each issue of their magazines. For maximum impact, it will be important that the logo be displayed in a consistent and easy-to-find location inside the magazine – for instance on the masthead or at the bottom of the table of contents.

MPA will also be designing public service ads that will be available to members to place in their magazines to bring additional attention to the logo and to reinforce the message that magazines are recyclable.

Why are there two logos?

Sometimes magazines include CDs, samples, or other non-paper inserts that can make it harder to recycle the magazine. In most cases, the magazine can still be recycled – but the recycling processor may have to remove the non-paper components first. So it would be better if these non-paper inserts are removed before the magazine is put in the recycling bin. Therefore, MPA created two logos.

The first logo includes the three chasing arrows symbol for recycling and the words Please Recycle This Magazine. The second logo is identical to the first logo except that it adds a second message – Please Remove Samples or Inserts Before Recycling.

MPA recommends that the logo containing the second message about removing samples or inserts should be placed in all issues that contain such a non-paper insert (e.g., CD disks, product samples, plastics). If publishers do not wish to alternate logos as needed, they may choose to always use the logo with the second message about removing samples or inserts, unless their magazines never contain non-paper inserts or samples, in which case they may choose to always use the logo without the second message.

Publishers should work with the designers of samples and inserts to ensure that the samples and inserts can be readily detached from their host magazines.

Are there other facets of magazine publishing that can make it harder to recycle magazines?


Several specific types of adhesives can be problematic because they tend to form very small particles (called “stickies”) that adhere to production equipment and are difficult to remove through the screening and other physical processing methods employed in pulp mills. Polyvinyl acetate (PVA), acrylic polymers, polystyrene polymers (such as styrene butadiene rubber), and hot melt adhesives (thermoplastics) are of particular concern. Water-soluble substitutes that make use of starch, dextrins, gums, and cellulose (polycel) can often accomplish the same functions and offer suitable performance characteristics, while not interfering with downstream paper fiber recovery operations.

Certain ink formulations and colors can pose problems because they are difficult to break up and remove in the repulping process. In particular, certain bright red, orange, and “day-glow” types of inks reportedly are difficult to remove from repulped recovered paper.

What will happen to the old magazines that are recycled?

Old magazines and similar materials that are currently recycled are used to make newsprint, tissue, paper/box board, and even writing and printing paper. Old magazines (and catalogs) are useful to producers of recycled-content newsprint, as they help to deink (remove ink) from recovered newspaper. They also contain fiber and clay coatings that can impart improved brightness and a smoother texture to certain components of multi-ply box and liner board.

Can recycled magazines be used to produce new, recycled content magazine paper?

Recycled magazines are not generally suitable for making new magazine paper. Instead, old magazines are commonly used in production of newsprint and tissue products, and also may be used, along with other types of fiber, to manufacture boxboard, and even writing and printing paper.

Many paper and board producers have a strong interest in using recovered paper, and would use more recovered paper were it available. This is particularly true of producers of recycled content products that do not have rigorous product quality standards for uniformity and brightness such as newsprint, tissue, and paper and box board.

Does MPA have other environmental initiatives?


Yes, MPA is working with its members on several other educational initiatives, including a revised, in-depth, environmental handbook covering all the environmental issues relevant to magazine publishing, and creating an environmental resources section on the MPA website. In addition, MPA is pursuing several initiatives to improve magazines’ environmental performance. These include improving retail sales efficiency for magazines sold at newsstands and other retail outlets and encouraging an increase in the availability and use of magazine papers certified for sustainable forestry harvesting practices.
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