David Risstrom - Greens Melbourne City Councillor 1999-2004
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ACHIEVEMENT: The City of Melbourne uses 100% post consumer waste paper for its printing and copying needs.

TARGET DATE: December 2003 PROGRESS: Achieved.

DESCRIPTION: Office paper is sourced from a variety of sources. When office paper is made from recycled material, it reduces the amount of wood from trees that needs to be sourced from our forests. Due to the highly inefficient forest practices used in Australia, that often involves logging virgin forests, woodchipping high value timber, spending large amounts of public money on providing logging companies access to wood resources and very high environmental damage through destruction of wildlife habitat and vegetation clearing, sourcing paper products from use of wood is environmentally, economically, and ultimately socially unsustainable. Using recycled paper is a way of increasing the efficiency of use of the original forest products by using them more than once.

Some paper manufacturing processes claim they contain 'recycled' content, when what they include is offcuts from the original milling process. Therefore, when you use their recycled products, the paper you use is not necessarily removing used paper form the waste stream that is filling up our municipal tip sites. 100% post-consumer waste paper means that 100% of the paper used to make the product you buy has been used at least once before.

FURTHER INFORMATION: More reasons for using recycled paper can be found at Australian Paper Watch, sponsored by the Friends of the Earth

In 1999, while I was Chair of the Melbourne City Council Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee, I worked directly with staff to trial and introduce recycled paper into the City of Melbourne's procurement. Over a period of three years, during which paper and photocopying trials were undertaken, the Council also did external research to come to the conclusion that 100% post-consumer waste paper known as 'Evolve' was the superior product on triple bottom line principles. Even though Evolve is sourced from the United Kingdom, even taking into account the increase energy requirements of transporting the paper to Australia, Evolve's environmental performance is superior to the majority of other papers currently available on the Australian market.

One of the aims of using 100% post consumer waste paper is to send a market signal to say that large organisations are wishing to use paper with high environmental performance standards and to help create a market for those products.

In 2003, after having changed to Fuji-Xerox photocopiers and having confirmed their suitability for recycled paper, a decision was taken to centrally procure paper. Due to a lack of research and inability to take into account the extensive research undertaken to reach the decision to choose 'Revolve', the administration undertook to change our office paper supply to 60% recycled Fuji Xerox 'Greenwrap'. Fuji Xerox could only confirm that the wood products they sourced came from a New Zealand mill. As it is very unusual for mills themselves to grow forest products, this provided very little guidance as to where the forest products were actually sourced from.

This resulted in the report below, which I wrote and presented to Council.


Motion: That the Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee:
1. Endorse the decision of the Corporate Management Team to centralise and standardise the procurement of paper used for printing and copying.
2. Request the Waste Task Group develop a policy for the procurement of paper used for printing and copying.
3. Council recommend the purchasing of Evolve, or a paper of equivalent or superior environmental performance, following an exploration of the benefits of doing so and having consulted with the Waste Task Group.
4. Note that this decision is being made by the Committee under delegation from the Council and is subject to the referral notice process.

This report has arisen from a question I asked in the July 2003 ECCD meeting concerning the previously change of paper source. The purpose of this motion and background is to inform Council of the need to maintain the recycled content of the general purpose printing and photocopying paper used within Council.

This report arose following an announcement that as part of the review of the photocopying contract, a decision was made by CMT on advice provided to them to change the paper used.

The Waste Task Group, which is the group most closely connected with the technical aspects of paper procurement supports the use of Evolve over all other current sources of recycled paper. Despite ‘some members of the Waste Task Group being consulted, the Waste Task Group does not support the replacement of Evolve with Greenwrap. Members of the MCC Waste Task Group and I have tried to resolve this issue internally, but with limited success.

The City of Melbourne undertook an extended process of internal discussion, investigation and practical trials over a two-year period for the introduction of recycled paper into our paper purchasing and use systems. The result of that process involved the replacement of a contract for Canon photocopiers with Fuji Xerox photocopiers and the bulk purchasing of 100% post-consumer waste paper sold under the name ‘Evolve’.

In a review of the purchasing arrangements, inadequate, incorrect and potentially biased information led to a decision to substitute Evolve. Despite having confirmed that the new photocopiers were compatible with recycled paper, and having personally confirmed that in the Committee meeting making that decision, Council have apparently accepted the advice of Fuji Xerox that they are now only prepared to guarantee the performance of their own paper product called Greenwrap.

No objection is taken with a system of centralised paper procurement. The objection is with the decision to use paper with lower environmental credentials when there is no evidence provided that the environmentally superior product was not performing.

A downloadable 37 Kb word copy of the September report I wrote on Centralised Procurement of Paper is available by clicking on the underlined title.

The decision to return to the use of Evolve copy paper was confirmed by a full meeting of Council in November 2003. A downloadable 52 Kb word copy of the November report I wrote on Centralised Procurement of Paper is available by clicking on the underlined title.


Cool Green Tip Of The Week -

23 April 2017: Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918 -1956.

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