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Sat 31 Jan 2009 04:00 AM

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Paper wastage: No pulp fiction

Paper wastage has a negative impact on the environment as well as a hotel's bottom line. Fairmont Dubai's Alka Patel outlines some easy measures your hotel can enforce to lighten the load.

Paper wastage has a negative impact on the environment as well as a hotel's bottom line. Fairmont Dubai's Alka Patel outlines some easy measures your hotel can enforce to lighten the load.

Trees benefit us in countless way. They produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, they reduce air pollution, replenish soil and control erosion and protect fish and wildlife. Paper is essential to our civilisation - we cannot do without it.

But global paper consumption has increased by 20 times in the past century and has more than tripled over the past 30 years. Paper manufacturing also produces an astounding number of problems, from the loss of habitat and resources caused by foresting, to pollution caused by its processing.

On the processing end, conventional white paper is bleached using chlorine derivatives, which produces thousands of organochlorines, including dioxides, furans and other highly toxic substances. In the environment, these chemicals are considered persistent - they can last for many years, because they do not break down easily.

In humans, these chemicals are associated with cancer, reproductive and development impairment, birth defects and other problems. Annually, these by-products are released by thousands of tonnes into local streams and in air emissions.

Two simple steps can go a very long way to help lessen the load of paper production:

• Reduce the amount of paper we use, whenever possible

• Where paper is needed, switch to products that are certified as environmentally friendly: made from recycled materials, sustainably produced and/or chlorine-free

Different types of paper and ink are constantly emerging. When choosing materials for specific projects or effects, talk to your printer or local paper merchant about environmentally-responsible options.

Reducing paper use

In our industry, we consume literally tonnes of paper per year in our kitchens and dining rooms, guest rooms and offices. Look for ways to cut back on the amount of paper you use:

In the office:

• Consolidate or eliminate unnecessary hotel business forms. Find ways to use electronic forms, where possible.

• Circulate written reports or memos in a single copy to all concerned and have them initial it after reading; don't distribute separate copies unless absolutely essential.

• Re-use envelopes for interdepartmental mail.

• Use email for internal and inter property mail, memos, daily lists, etc. When using email and the internet, only print the pages that you need, and then on scrap paper.

• Photocopy on both sides of every sheet. Set your printers to default to double-sided printing.

• Instead of recycled pages printed on one side only, cut and staple into notepads - or collect several used pages and bind them to create a notebook.

• Laminate checklist and frequently-used documents to reduce the need for replacement due to wear and tear.

Throughout the property:

• Use reusable wipe-up clothes instead of throwaway paper towels.

• Use washable cups and mugs, rather than paper ones

• Use cloth napkins instead of paper

Environmentally-friendly papers

Recycled paper usually refers to a paper product that contains post-consumer material (paper that has already been used and returned through a recycling programme) and/or other recycled fibre (i.e. unused paper scrapes left over from manufacturing). Be careful not to confuse ‘recycled' with ‘recyclable' or the common recycling symbol, which has very little meaning. All paper is recyclable.

It's also a good idea to distinguish between the pre consumer and post consumer content in recycled paper. For example, a paper labelled as being ‘50% recycled, 20% PCW' means that 50% has been recycled - 20% of which is post-consumer waste - and 50% comes from virgin wood.

Look for the highest post-consumer content, as it uses and creates demand for paper that would normally end up in the landfill - and no new trees are cut down to make it.

Office paper

In the office, buying recycled paper is an easy way to reduce the impact on our environment. But be careful to check the warranty on your printers and photocopy machines - some cannot use 100% recycled paper. However, most can use paper that includes 30% content or more.

Other uses of recycled paper

High-quality recycled paper is readily available for use throughout Fairmont Dubai:

• Toilet tissue, facial tissues and paper towels made from recycled paper should be used throughout your hotel, including guest rooms.

• When you update your menu, have it printed on high standard environmentally-friendly paper.

• Brochures and in-room materials should also be printed on recycled paper with high post consumer recycled content

At the Fairmont Dubai, take away bags from Pronto gourmet café are supplied by UAE-based company Interplast Co. Ltd and are made from 100% recycled material.

Did you know?

Did you know that manufacturing recycled paper produces 74% less air pollution and 35% less water pollution and uses 58% less water and 64% less energy?

It also creates five times more jobs than producing paper from trees and it saves old growth trees, forest ecosystems, natural habitant and biodiversity.

Alka Patel is the public relations manager for the Fairmont Dubai. For more information email: alka.patel@fairmont.com.

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