Metro‘s ‘Social Responsibility’? Not So Fast

Ever since the two freebie dailies, Metro and amNY, showed up a couple of years ago, one fact has not been disputed: there’s a hell of a lot more newsprint lying in damp parcels on New York street corners, tumbling along on deserted subway platforms, and clothing the homeless. Thus, it was a pleasant notion to our eco-friendly conscience to read the headline on a press release in our inbox yesterday that noted Metro NY was rolling out a new recycling initiative.

Except it was another example of a press release trolling for the media’s eco-friendly heartstrings — and there’ve been plenty of those lately.

Rather than the hawkers in green pinneys handing out papers (or, beside them, perhaps) Metro North commuters in Grand Central will be instructed to hand in their used Metros to promoters dressed in orange, who will then take the crumpled papers (presumably with their half-completed crossword puzzles) and redistribute them to other disinterested Gothamites at lunchtime. Via the release:

Combined with feedback from readers and a sense of social responsibility, Metro has put a plan into action. Metro will aim to recycle 40,000 newspapers every month.

So let’s do the math. 40,000 “recycled” papers per month means roughly 2,000 per day. So of the 18.5 million issues Metro is prints each day worldwide, the company will be collecting and redistributing 0.0001 percent to people who have probably been reading the news all day on the Web anyway. And for this initiative they want to claim the title of “socially responsible paper.”

Funny, too, the release doesn’t mention whether Metro will be printing 40,000 fewer copies each month.

Metro launches newspaper recycling program in city [Metro]

The full release:

For Immediate Release
May 1, 2006
Metro New York launches a new recycling initiative

New York (May 1, 2006) — Metro New York is excited to announce a new Recycling Program that launched this morning at Grand Central Station. Metro is proud to be the first newspaper to roll out a program where Metro can share their civic responsibility with readers, help make recycling more available and work to keep New York clean.

Combined with feedback from readers and a sense of social responsibility, Metro has put a plan into action. Metro will aim to recycle 40,000 newspapers every month with the intention to grow the program throughout the year and open more stations throughout New York City. Metro NY has been able to bring global experiences to a local level and learn from their sister newspaper in Hong Kong who has grown a recycling initiative to 49 stations from 5 in just eighteen months.

The concept is simple. Readers are instructed that if Grand Central Terminal is the end of their commute, Metro promoters dressed in orange and encouraging readers to “Recycle your Metro” are ready to collect their paper. Papers collected in the morning will be cleaned and then redistributed during the lunchtime hours.

“This morning was a huge success and our readers really responded well to our initiative,” said Jeremy Bryant, Circulation Director, Metro New York. “We recycled 1,000 papers on day one which is very promising and received several phone calls and emails thanking us for taking this important step.”

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