PROFILES IN Garbage: Magazines & Catalogs

Most magazines and catalogs are printed on coated, groundwood paper. Groundwood is the same kind of paper used for newspapers. Clay, by far the most common coating, is used to help smooth paper surfaces and to create an optimum surface to which glossy inks can adhere.

A two-sided coated paper sheet used for magazines normally will have 30 percent to 35 percent clay and filler, and 65 percent to 70 percent fiber content.

Approximately 24 billion magazines were distributed in the United States in 1995. Of this, 66 percent go to subscribers, 17 percent are sold at newsstands and 15 percent are returned as unsold.

Twelve billion catalogs were printed in 1995.

By weight, total magazine production was twice as great as that of catalogs.

Magazines & Catalogs MSW Facts: Generated: * 1.97 million tons or 0.9% by weight.*

* 14.6 pounds of magazines per person per year.*

Recycled: * 480,000 tons for a 24% recycling rate.*

Recycled Content: Recycled content in coated paper is a recent phenomenon. A 1993 survey showed that 21% of the responding magazine companies use some recycled-content paper. Using recycled fiber is difficult in coated paper because this type of paper is manufactured in a very exacting process where a thin coating is placed on the fiber base. Contaminants not removed by the deinking process can reduce the smoothness of the coated sheet and cause printing problems.

Composted: Magazines can be composted if shredded properly. However, the clay coating will resist composting.

Incinerated or Landfilled: * 1.5 million tons, or 1% of discarded MSW by weight*

* The clay in magazines gives them about the same Btus per pound as MSW (4,500 to 5,000 Btus for a pound of MSW), which is lower than most paper products' Btu value.

* Burning coated paper creates more ash than burning other types of paper.

Landfill Volume: 5.7 million cubic yards, or 0.9% of landfilled MSW by volume.*

Density: Landfilled magazines have a density of 800 pounds per cubic yard.

Source Reduction: Lighterweight and smaller sized paper can be used, especially in response to price increases in coated paper costs.

Trends in consumer purchasing habits are leading to increased production and distribution of catalogs.

Recycling Markets: Traditionally, magazine recycling has been limited to relatively clean and easy to collect sources, such as a printer's waste and unsold copies for which markets existed. Magazine clay hindered recycling efforts.

Now, newer newspaper deinking mills using flotation technologies to remove ink from newspaper fiber are the primary markets for magazines. Clay particles help to absorb ink, and then rise to the surface with air bubbles in the flotation cell. The desired deinking mixture in flotation systems is 30% magazines to 70% newspaper. Collection problems lead to a lower percentage of magazines in the mix.

Other markets include the traditional mixed wastepaper markets, such as containerboard and tissue paper.

End-Market Specifications: Magazines and catalogs fall under two paperstock categories in the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Washington, D.C., Paperstock Guide. No. 10, "Magazines," covers "baled coated magazines, catalogs and similar printed material. May contain a small percentage of uncoated news-type papers." Prohibited materials are limited to 1% and outthrows to 3%.

Contaminants include materials used to produce or distribute the magazines such as ultra-violet-cured inks, pressure-sensitive adhesives, water-soluble glue bindings, plastic bags, and metallic or plastic inserts.

Recycling Cost and Value: Curbside programs that collect magazines and catalogs usually keep them separate from old newspapers. These programs collect small amounts of magazines because people tend to keep magazines longer than newspapers, and because in the past, newspaper recycling programs discouraged magazines as contaminants.

In addition, unshredded magazines can be slippery and hard to compress. When baled, stacks tend to slide and fall apart. Thus, care and time must be taken in baling whole magazines.

A magazine collection program may require an extra bin on the truck or additional processing capacity. This can lead to increased costs.

Old magazines generally follow the same price trends as old newspapers, usually close to or at the same value as old newspapers.

Chaz Miller is the acting director, state programs for the Environmental Industry Associations, Washington, D.C.

Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 1997 Update, 1998. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Solid Waste, Washington, D.C. Website: Direct Mail Association, New York. Website: Magazine Publishers of America, New York. Website: Scrap Specifications Circular, 1998. Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Washington, D.C. Website: "The Emerging World of Deinking," Waste Age, June 1992. Website: www.