Paper tigers spoil recycling policy

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The Independent Online
LAST week's proclamation of new laws to force industries to increase recycling was, literally, not worth the paper it was written on, writes Geoffrey Lean.

For Environment Secretary John Gummer's announcement in a press release that he would 'legislate at the earliest opportunity to ensure that business initiatives on recycling were not undermined by those seeking to avoid any obligation to take part' was not printed on recycled paper.

Mr Gummer wrote: 'We all have a part to play - as consumers, as producers, as local communities and as businesses'. But not, it appears, as ministers.

A survey shows that only a handful of Cabinet members use recycled paper for press releases or written answers to parliamentary questions, despite an undertaking four years ago to 'discriminate positively' in its favour.

A series of Parliamentary questions by Labour MP Ron Davies to ministers at 17 Government departments showed that only five used any recycled paper for press releases and written answers. Only the Ministry of Defence 'almost invariably' used it for both.

Four years ago, in its last White Paper on the Environment, the Government promised 'to use recycled paper wherever this is available, of adequate quality and represents value for money.'

Her Majesty's Stationery Office says that suitable recycled papers are now available for all purposes.

Yesterday Mr Marek Mayer, editor of Environmental Data Services said: 'In his speech at the Conservative Party conference Mr Gummer accused the public of double standards . . . this survey shows that, despite legislating to make others recycle, the Government is being very slow to put its own house in order.'