Ireland's publishing industry has made "vital strides" in its quest to create sustainable growth but many challenges still remain, an environment forum hosted by the Green Press Partnership (GPP) in Dublin was told last week.
Speaking at the forum, which examined the environmental impact and future of publishing, broadcaster and environmentalist Duncan Stewart said that newspapers have 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.
Also speaking at the forum was Enda Buckley, director of sustainability with National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) – one of the associations that make up the GPP – who gave an analysis of the environmental impact of press products in Ireland.
The forum also heard from Fintan Gavigan, chairman of the GPP, which represents the newspaper and magazine groups in Ireland and the UK.
"In a relatively short space of time, the publishing industry has made significant progress in key areas like the recovery of old newspapers and magazines, recycling of newsprint, public awareness and overall environmental performance," he said.
"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 said.
"Of course there are challenges ahead but we are committed to maintaining the highest possible environmental standards as we look to build a sustainable future."
Since its formation, the GPP has introduced a new set of environment standards designed to reduce waste in the Irish paper supply chain. The group has also been credited with helping to increase Ireland's rate of newsprint recycling to 89 per cent, one of the highest levels of recycling anywhere in the world.