x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Print edition of The National now on 100% recycled paper

The National begins printing on recycled paper today, part of its mission to encourage environmental awareness and responsibility.

Shahama, UAE - February 12, 2010 - Newspapers are folded and bundled at United Printing and Publishing. (Nicole Hill / The National)
Shahama, UAE - February 12, 2010 - Newspapers are folded and bundled at United Printing and Publishing. (Nicole Hill / The National)

Starting today, The National will be printed on recycled paper.

The switch comes with the support and sponsorship of the Abu Dhabi clean energy company, Masdar, at a time when recycling has become an increasingly important issue in the Emirates.

UAE residents generate one of the highest per capita amounts of waste in the world, and the country is still in the process of building its recycling infrastructure.

The newspaper initiative was inspired by a desire to help raise awareness on the issue, and to ensure that The National does its part to make Abu Dhabi more sustainable, said Hassan Fattah, the newspaper's editor-in-chief.

"In this industry, we are aware of our impact on the environment, and how we can play our part to become more sustainable," Mr Fattah said. "We all have a responsibility to think long-term and assess how we can reduce our carbon footprint while still delivering a high-quality product.

"Moving to printing on 100 per cent recycled paper is one small positive step we can make to reduce our impact on the planet, and fits with The National's continued commitment to raise awareness about environmental issues."

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the chief executive of Masdar, said: "We are pleased to partner with The National on this initiative and applaud Abu Dhabi Media on taking proactive steps to enhance their corporate sustainability. This project serves as an example of Abu Dhabi's strong support and commitment to environmental stewardship."

Abu Dhabi Media, which publishes The National, and Masdar are both part of the Mubadala group.

About 40 million tonnes of household waste are produced in Abu Dhabi each year. Of this amount, about 19 per cent is paper and cardboard waste, according to a spokesman for the Centre of Waste Management - Abu Dhabi.

In contrast with plastic, which takes hundreds of years to break down and is a harmful source of pollution, paper waste in itself is not as concerning, he said.

"It is not a big problem, it is just a question of getting the infrastructure to deal with it," he said. "It is a very recyclable commodity."

Abu Dhabi currently lacks the infrastructure to recycle paper and other forms of household waste, but the waste management centre is working on plans to build the needed facilities within a year or so.

But while paper waste in itself is not a source of pollution, failure to recycle it represents a missed opportunity, said Huzaifa Rangwala, the manager of marketing and contracts at Union Paper Mills in Dubai, the UAE's first and only paper recycling facility.

"By recycling paper, you are saving tremendous amounts of water and energy," Mr Rangwala said.

Recycling a tonne of paper can save 17 trees as well as over 7,000 gallons of water. It also uses, on average, 60 per cent less energy than producing a new paper.

Union Paper Mills recycles 550 tonnes of paper and cardboard every day. The output, about 500 tonnes of cardboard, is sold mainly in the UAE for use by the packaging industry.

Although statistics are not available, Mr Rangwala estimated that not more than 30 per cent of the paper waste in the country is recycled. Because the company is based in Dubai, most of its paper comes from the emirate.

"Our main problem is getting enough waste paper and cardboard," he said, explaining that more efforts must be made to segregate waste so that it is easy for recyclers to retrieve and to process.

Since no company in the UAE produces recycled paper of sufficient quality for The National, the newspaper had to source the product from overseas.

Mr Rangwala said that if more people recycled their paper waste, and more companies were interested in buying and using recycled paper, the local market would grow and diversify to offer more products.

votodorova@thenational.ae