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Proposal would require City Hall to use recycled paper only

Paper-pushing at Spokane City Hall is likely to get a bit greener.

A proposal expected to win council approval Monday night would require the city to use only recycled office paper, a move that would cost an extra $5,900 annually and serve to bolster Spokane’s growing focus on sustainability issues.

City Hall uses about 27 tons of office paper a year and currently just 7 percent is from recycled products, said Council President Ben Stuckart, who introduced the proposal after checking with the city’s primary paper supplier to make sure it would be practical to make the switch. The requirement would save nearly 700 trees per year, Stuckart said.

The proposal follows council directives over the past couple of months to reduce city use of products containing trace PCBs and insecticides considered detrimental to honeybees.

“If we’re really going to be sustainable, in my mind, then we should be purchasing recycled paper,” Stuckart said.

The city already had a purchasing preference for recycled products, he said, but the council proposal would make it a requirement when the additional cost is no more than 15 percent higher.

Councilman Mike Fagan said he has concerns about the proposal’s requirement that Spokane’s use of recycled materials be promoted and advertised. If the recycling symbol or an existing notation on the office paper advising that it’s made from recycled materials would meet the requirement, Fagan said he’s supportive, provided the alternative products are adequate and competitively priced.

“In this case, we’re looking at an additional cost of $5,900 above and beyond what we’re already paying,” he said. “In some people’s minds, that’s not competitive.”

Nationally, use of recycled paper is growing.

Although no figures were immediately available for how many cities require exclusive use of recycled paper products, the American Forest and Paper Association said more than 60 percent of the paper used in the United States since 2009 has been recovered for recycling each year and current projections show it should exceed 70 percent by 2020.

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