Earth Day Report: Montreal 'Gazette' Bares Own Environmental Waste

By: Joe Strupp The Gazette, which markets itself as Montreal's only English-language daily, appears also to be its most self-examined paper, at least where the environment is concerned. Last weekend, the daily produced a lengthy package for Earth Day that looked at how its own daily policies and procedures damage the environment.

"This newspaper regularly covers environmental issues and, on occasion, exposes companies that harm the environment," reporter Marian Scott, who led the reporting, told E&P in an e-mail. "As a result, we feel we have a moral responsibility to examine our own ecological impact. We looked into everything from where our newsprint comes from to how the paper is delivered. We checked how many newspapers are recycled after use (about 67 per cent across Quebec)."

The result is an unusual report on the paper's own daily habits, some ecologically positive, others admittedly wasteful. It can be found here.

"We checked the heating bills for our printing plant and downtown office and counted everything from newsprint - 15,000 metric tonnes this year - to the 61,500 Styrofoam cups used in our coffee machines. What did we learn?" the initial story asked. "The biggest part of our footprint - by far - is paper. The newsprint in one year's worth of The Gazette consumes the equivalent of 186,816 trees. To produce that much newsprint uses enough energy to heat 2,472 homes for a year and enough water to fill 272 swimming pools, and emits as much carbon dioxide (C02) as 1,500 cars."

The story also admitted that not enough recycling within the building is being done, but revealed a new policy requiring double-sided copies whenever possible.

Other internal findings the paper revealed that show environmental waste:

-- "With 11 copiers, 16 fax machines and 45 printers, we use a total of 25,590 kilograms of office paper a year. And not a sheet of it has recycled content. If we switched to 100-per-cent recycled office paper, it would cost up to 33 per cent more but we could save 676 trees and spare the environment 27 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions."

-- "Gazette employees used 61,500 disposable cups from our coffee machine in the past year.

-- "Our 17 advertising reps drive their cars an average of 20,000 kilometres a year for work purposes while our 14 staff photographers drive an average of 14,000 km a year. The annual environmental tab for all that driving is 110 tonnes of C02 emissions."

-- "Our office is responsible for 347.7 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year - the equivalent of driving 114 Toyota Tercels for one year."

Publisher Alan Allnutt vowed in a column that ran with the package to seek efforts to improve the paper's environmental awareness. "We've taken the first big step - looking at ourselves and getting a good idea of our ecological footprint," he wrote. "In the coming months, we'll be combing through our findings, looking deeper into some areas, and figuring out where we can best put our next efforts."


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