The Alkaline Paper Advocate

Volume 2, Number 3
Aug 1989

Hearings on Recycled & Permanent Paper

On May 4, a House subcommittee held an oversight hearing on recycled and permanent paper, which was well-attended and informative. It was not held in connection with any proposed legislation, but was intended merely to provide background information to the Science, Research and Technology Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

The witnesses (i.e., experts invited to supply information) were:

Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-RI)
Kurt Vonnegut and Barbara Goldsmith, authors
James H. Billington and Peter G. Sparks, Library of Congress
Charles Kalina, National Library of Medicine
Jeffrey Denit, Office of Solid Waste, EPA
Joseph E. Jenifer, Government Printing Office
Lawrence Hughes, Association of American Publishers
Robert Lawrence, P.H. Glatfelter Co.
M. Bruce Lyne, International Paper Co.

Bruce Lyne described several ways in which use of recycled fiber could affect alkaline papermaking, and vice versa: 1) Separate recycling paths are necessary for alkaline and acid waste papers, because when they go into the same system, foam results and troublesome compounds form. 2) Waste papers containing significant amounts of lignin are not suitable for making alkaline fine paper, because lignin turns dark in an alkaline environment. 3) Alkaline paper has a higher folding endurance but a lower tear resistance than acidic paper, and when it contains recycled fiber the tear resistance is even lower, which makes it very hard for alkaline recycled paper to meet that particular criterion for durability in the permanence standards.

According to the June Washington Hotline from the American Library Association's Washington office, Jeffrey Denit (Deputy Director, Office of Solid Waste, EPA) described Section 6002 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which strongly encourages federal agencies to use products containing recovered materials to the maximum extent practicable. For book papers, EPA recommends at least 50% recycled fiber content. Exceptions are possible, but reasons must be documented. Denit said EPA recognized that for some purposes, achieving extended lifetime for paper is essential, but felt that the need for permanent paper was small enough compared with all government use of paper to be the exception rather than the rule. He said EPA stands ready to work cooperatively with agencies with more expertise in permanent paper such as GPO, GSA and JCP. (He did not mention the National Archives or Library of Congress.)

Afterwards the American Library Association's Washington office sent an open letter to the Subcommittee Chair, Doug Walgren. Excerpts follow. Omitted are passages an topics well covered by Sen. Pell's remarks elsewhere in this issue.

Dear Mr. Chairman:

On behalf of the American Library Association and its membership of 48,000 librarians, library trustees and other information professionals, let me congratulate your subcommittee and staff on the hearing on Preservation of Print, May 4, 1989....

... The hearings brought out the following major points in a clear and convincing manner:

... The Acting Public Printer testified that 30 percent of paper stock an hand was now alkaline, and that the Joint Committee on Printing had adopted one specification for permanent uncoated paper. He also announced that the Government Printing Office was planning to take two further steps: to advise and encourage agencies to specify permanent paper where appropriate, and to use alkaline paper where appropriate even if agencies had not requested it. He did not add that when alkaline paper was used that it would be so stated in the publication.

... Currently there is only one American standard for printing paper--American National Standard Z39.48-1984-and it covers only uncoated paper. No other country appears to have a similar national standard.

Comprehensive as the hearings were, in our opinion two subjects were not covered in as much detail as me might wish:

A. Identifying the paper in the publication....

B. Other countries. The hearings understandably were not able to cover the production and use of alkaline paper in other countries, a very important matter for the Library of Congress and other research libraries, since so large a proportion of the materials they acquire comes from other nations. Actually we do not have comprehensive and detailed information on this question, but activities have been set in motion to correct this deficiency. A resolution similar to the Pell-William Joint Resolution will be offered at the August 1989 annual conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) in Paris, which should not only stimulate the use of alkaline paper around the world, but lead to the collection of essential data not now available. Also, at a meting in Washington a few days after your hearing, a committee of the International Standards Organization [i.e., the International Organization for Standardization, ISO] agreed to expedite action to produce an International Standard on permanent printing and writing papers based on the American Standard now in the last stages of revision and expansion. What we do know suggests that a few governments are slightly ahead of us, such as Her Majesty's Stationery Office with respect to British Parliamentary papers and the Finnish Government for all official papers; but by and large the United States seem to be in a leadership position on this issue....

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