IRELAND'S publishing industry is a world leader when it comes to recycling, with some 89pc of newsprint being recovered and used again for other purposes.
This is against figures in 2002 that showed Ireland was recycling just 28pc of its newsprint.
An environmental forum hosted by the Green Press Partnership in Dublin yesterday, heard Ireland's publishing industry has made "vital strides" in its quest to create sustainable growth, but many challenges still remain.
Broadcaster and environmentalist Duncan Stewart told the conference that newspapers had an important role to play in building local sustainable communities, pointing to the press industry's recent 'Get Involved' initiative as an example.
"The 'Get Involved' project really struck a chord with me," said Mr Stewart. "It showed a growing interest and enthusiasm among communities to embrace collaborative actions for the benefit of their environs and economy, with a clear sense of pride in their local place."
'Get Involved' is a new initiative that sees local and regional newspapers co-ordinating voluntary projects to help improve and create a sense of collaboration among communities around Ireland.
Other speakers at the forum included; environmental specialist Gavin Harte of ESD Training, Martin Eustace of the 'Two Sides' recycling campaign, and Michael Sturges of Innventia, a UK-based research institute, specialising in forest raw materials.
Meanwhile Enda Buckley, director of sustainability with National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI), one of the associations making up the GPP, gave an analysis of the environmental impact of press products here.
Fintan Gavigan of INM, chairman of the Green Press Partnership – which represents the newspaper and magazine groups in Ireland and the UK – told the forum that in a relatively short time the publishing industry had made "significant progress" in key areas.
These included the recovery of old newspapers and magazines, recycling of newsprint, public awareness and overall environmental performance.
"That progress is down to a huge collective effort and financial commitment on the part of the five associations that make up the GPP," Mr Gavigan added.