Kentucky has closed more than 20 printing plants since 2004

Finding the story Thursday about the Courier-Journal closing its printing operation sent me scurrying through the folders on reports we used to file with the state on recycled newsprint use.

Starting back in 1994, the state required newspapers to file annual reports with the Cabinet for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection on the total tonnage of newsprint and recycled newspaper used. The state allowed KPA to survey all printing plants in the state, collect the data on total tons, recycled newsprint tons and number of newspapers printed at each location and file that report soon after the start of each year.

The first job, obviously, was to find out how many plants there were in the state and the initial 1994 report showed 44.

Searching for the file Thursday, I found the most recent report — 2003 figures filed in early 2004 — and used that for the basis. There were 41 plants reporting newsprint use in 2003.

Going ahead and not counting the Courier-Journal plant for 2021, we’ll have 17 plants in Kentucky at best count printing newspapers come April.

Some have closed with change of ownership; several have closed because of the press’ age and not being able to find parts. And of course, some of closed as a way to cut personnel.

I doubt well see the number of printing plants increase any time in the future.

So you ask, what did those reports to the state show?

We shared the annual figures with newspapers on total tons, recycled tons and percent of recycled newspapers each year when the report was filed. But just to give you a feel, in 1993 those 41 plants used 85,816.359 tons of newsprint and 49,220.884 tons contained recycled fiber.

In 1996, it was 81,285 total tons with 78,203 recycled content.

1999 was the highest in the 12 years we compiled the report with 92,539.105 total tons but recycled tons remained pretty constant at 78,382.558,

The last year we filed the report — 2003 filed in January 2004 — the plants used 79,892.815 with 52,862,17o containing some level of recycled fiber. I just wonder what the tonnage would be today.

We don’t hear anything in the legislature about recycled content anymore. We haven’t since Rep. Mark Brown and Rep. Herbie Deskins left the General Assembly. Once they were gone, we stopped filing the reports because in 2004 it was obvious the cabinet wasn’t interested in newsprint and recycled fiber.


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