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Paper producer considering building recycled pulp mill
02/04/2012 - Australia's primary producer of office paper is considering building a recycled pulp mill in Victoria to reduce its reliance on native forests, in a proposal green groups say is long overdue. Catherine Best
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Australian Paper, producer of Reflex, has announced a feasibility study into building a recycling plant at its Maryvale mill in the Latrobe Valley.
The multi-million-dollar plant is part of a company strategy to increase from two thirds to three quarters the proportion of recycled waste and plantation timber used in production.
The feasibility study is expected to be completed in August.
Australian Paper chief executive Jim Henneberry said if the plant went ahead it would significantly boost the amount of premium recycled paper made in Australia.
"Currently our recycled fibre is sourced from a Victorian supplier, but due to the impending closure of that plant we are conducting a feasibility study for a large recycled pulp facility at our Maryvale mill," he said in a statement.
"By value-adding locally, we would save large volumes of waste paper being sent to local landfills or shipped overseas."
Environmental groups welcomed the proposal but say it doesn't go far enough, renewing calls for logging of native forests to cease.
"Australian Paper needs to understand that they do not have a social licence (to operate) whilst they continue to source from native forests, which is pushing Victoria's faunal emblem, the leadbeater's possum, and other species to extinction," Wilderness Society Victorian campaign manager Luke Chamberlain said.
Chamberlain said there was enough plantation timber to meet demand without resorting to native forests. But there was a lack of will to stop logging native trees because it was cheaper.
Friends of the Earth spokesman Anthony Amis said Australian Paper had no choice but to tap into recycled paper because it was running out of native forests, and swathes of timber plantations in Gippsland had been wiped out in the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.
"For the company to move out of the native forests and plantations into recycled (paper) would be definitely their only option eventually. We've been saying it for years," he said.
Amis said most of Australian Paper's recycled material is turned into cardboard boxes, not office paper, and that must change.
The Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI) said the recycling announcement was a boon for jobs and the Gippsland economy.
It would increase the amount of recycled paper produced in Australia and reduce landfill, VAFI spokesman Shaun Ratcliff said.
"Australian Paper should be applauded for ensuring it does everything it can to ensure that the paper manufactured in Australia and used by Australians is made in the most sustainable way possible."
Source: AAP NewsWire
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