OLYMPIA – Under a new law signed today by Gov. Chris Gregoire, Washington state agencies and college campuses will be greener and leaner than ever in using paper products – further advancing state recycling and sustainability goals dating to the late 1990s.
At the same time, the new law creates a strong market incentive for paper mills to invest in technology and process innovations that will create blue-collar jobs in one of Washington's oldest industries – paper making.
The paper recycling and conservation act, sponsored in the 2009 legislative session by Reps. Lynn Kessler and Kevin Van De Wege, directs state government to:
- Reduce printing and copy paper use by at least 30 percent, beginning no later than July 1, 2010.
- Purchase 100 percent recycled content paper for printing and copying by Dec. 31, 2009.
- Recycle 100 percent of copy and printing paper in all buildings with 25 employees or more.
- Restrict future leases or purchases of printers and copiers to models that will efficiently use 100 percent recycled content white sheet bond paper.
- Give priority to purchasing from companies that produce paper in facilities powered by a renewable energy source.
In print projects requiring high-volume production inserters or high-speed digital devices, agencies are required to use the highest recycled content feasible for the job.
"This new law is a win for the state of Washington," said Gov. Chris Gregoire. "It saves money for taxpayers while reducing waste. In addition, it encourages innovation and job growth. With a growing market for recycled paper products, our Washington paper mills will create living-wage jobs to produce the paper products we need in today's world."
The Department of Ecology (Ecology) estimates that the increased paper conservation and recycling requirements will save state taxpayers about $1 million per year. According to the agency's waste reduction experts, the increased cost of purchasing 100 percent recycled paper can be offset by setting printers to double-sided printing and by paper conservation efforts.
Currently, Ecology, The Evergreen State College, and the city of Seattle are among the state's public-sector leaders in reducing paper waste. Many other state offices currently recycle. For example, the Department of General Administration collects and recycles 90 percent of the paper discarded by state offices on the Capitol Campus in Olympia.
Rep. Kessler said, “Washington has a proud tradition of producing the wood and paper products that the world needs. Our new paper conservation and recycling law helps open up new markets for ‘green' products created by blue-collar workers right here in our state – jobs that won't be exported.”
Sen. James Hargrove, who championed the bill in the Senate, said: “This bill is further proof that if we're smart, we can protect the environment at the same time we protect good jobs in the forest products industry.”
Washington already has a state-of-the art paper mill in Hoquiam that is qualified to sell paper products to state government under the renewable energy preference standard in the new law.
Grays Harbor Paper L.P. manufactures environment-friendly paper products, including a line that is uncoated, 100 percent recycled, and chlorine-free.
The refitted mill – which traces its history to 1929 – generates its own power from an energy-efficient turbine that uses wood waste to create steam that generates electricity. It's certified as using renewable energy for its operations. It currently employs 231 workers.
Bill Quigg, owner of Grays Harbor Paper, said: “Washington state continues to be a leader in reducing its carbon footprint while creating jobs. Our company and our employees are proud to live and work here, and we look forward to producing the fully recycled paper that Washington needs.”
Environmental benefits at a glance
Based on current usage by state agencies of 2,578 tons of paper, switching to 100 percent recycled content paper will:
- Use 6,256 tons less wood — the equivalent of about 43,000 trees.
- Produce 3.8 million pounds less in climate-changing greenhouse gases — the equivalent of about 346 cars per year — in producing the paper.
- Use 15.7 million gallons less water — the equivalent of about 24 swimming pools — in producing the paper.
- Create 2 million pounds less solid waste sent to landfills — the equivalent of about 72 garbage truck loads.