German publishers rapped on chlorine bleaching

NGOs accuse firms of misleading consumers, call for all chlorine use to be eliminated

German publishers were accused yesterday of misleading the public by labelling as chlorine-free, paper that has, in fact, been bleached with chlorine compounds. According to Friends of the Earth Germany (Bund), tests it has carried out show that the paper used in many magazines contains around 30mg of chlorine per kilogram, far higher than the 5mg/kg level that the group says could fairly be called chlorine free. There are no legally binding standards on chlorine content in paper in Germany, but in 1996 the German magazine publishers' association (VDZ) pledged not to use pulp bleached with elemental chlorine. Instead, the industry said, it would switch to chlorine dioxide bleaching, which reduces the environmental impacts of pulping. Together with the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Bund claims that this alone should not be sufficient to enable labelling of products as "chlorine-free". The groups also argue that technical progress since the early 1990s mean that there is now widespread availabil ity in Sweden, Germany's major pulp supplier, of totally chlorine free (TCF) pulp bleached with ozone or hydrogen peroxide. Lucian Haas of Bund told ENDS Daily that the group was now pushing for magazine publishers to commit to using TCF pulp only. Beyond this, he said, Bund would campaign for a further transition to the complete elimination of effluents through closed loop pulping.

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