BEGINNING in 1991, Toronto's four daily newspapers will have to use at least 50 percent recycled fiber in their newsprint - or their vending boxes will be removed from city streets. The recent city council ruling potentially affects 6,700 boxes. At the Toronto Star, Canada's largest newspaper and one which currently does not use recycled newsprint, the boxes account for 10 percent of sales.
The new ruling is fueled by both environmental ideals and a glut of used newsprint. The drive to collect newsprint for recycling is so successful in Toronto - and the rest of the province of Ontario - that there is too much to handle.
``Recycling programs in Ontario are picking up 4,800 tons of old newspapers a month, and about 30 percent of that can't be used,'' says John Bogdan, operations manager for Quebec Ontario Recycling. His company handles the de-inking and recycling of the newsprint. ``We export the rest, mostly to Korea and Italy.''
Ontario's recycling program was organized by a group of businesses - soft drink companies, glass and metal manufacturers - which wanted to act on recycling before they were legislated into doing more.
Glass and plastic bottles, metal cans, and newspapers are collected in special blue boxes put out for pickup twice a week. Almost 2 million of the boxes have been distributed in Ontario.
The program captures 45,000 tons of newsprint a year in Toronto. Every ton that is recycled saves 19 trees, according to Ontario Multi Material Recycling Inc., which represents the industry group. That means Toronto's recycling program alone saves 855,000 trees a year.
The four dailies use 250,000 tons of newsprint a year. Only the Sun and the Financial Post print on recycled paper - indeed, they are the only newspapers in Canada that do. This is an embarrassment for the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, both of which advocate recycling on the editorial page.
One problem is that Canada has only one de-inking plant. Another plant is under construction and will be in operation at the end of 1990.
The Star has a contract for new newsprint with Consolidated Bathurst, owned by Stone Container Corp. of Chicago. In fact The Toronto Star is Consolidated's biggest customer in Canada, buying 150,000 tons of newsprint a year. Its contract with Consolidated Bathurst is up at the end of 1990.
``We appreciate the objectives city council wants achieved,'' Star publisher David Jolley says. ``When the present contract expires, we will give high priority to manufacturers who supply newsprint with recycled fiber.''