White House Budget Not Fully Recycled

Posted February 3, 2010 at 6:18pm

Members of Congress use 100 percent recycled paper for their letterhead and the Congressional Record — but President Barack Obama has so far neglected to follow suit on the scores of White House documents printed every year.

Most of Obama’s 2,450-page budget is printed on the same 30 percent post-consumer recycled fiber that the Government Printing Office has used for years. And while it’s more environmentally friendly than unrecycled paper, it’s also not the best the GPO can do.

In October, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that the Congressional Record would be printed on 100 percent recycled paper, a move she estimated would save 1.4 million pounds of greenhouse gases every year. Since then, House and Senate letterhead and the Federal Register have also switched, and Pelosi has signaled that she hopes to do more in the future.

But Obama has so far done little to change the White House’s printed documents, continuing the same standards established by then-President George W. Bush in 2006 (who expanded on former President Bill Clinton’s standards). Trish Fritz, the GPO’s environmental executive, declined to comment on the White House’s paper choices. But she said the GPO is continuously researching greener options and works with customers to decide what works best for a variety of documents.

In Congress’ case, switching to 100 percent recycled paper didn’t increase the cost. The Congressional Record is printed on newsprint, so Congress doesn’t need to spend extra on whitening the paper, Fritz said.

The president’s budget, however, is on bright white paper. A spokesman from the Office of Management and Budget declined to comment on whether the White House is considering switching to greener paper. But he reiterated that the GPO follows the executive requirement of 30 percent recycled paper.

“The Appendix, Analytical Perspectives, and Historical Tables volumes, which comprise 92 percent of the paper used for the Budget, are printed on paper with 30 percent recycled content,” he said in an e-mail.