Recycled paper is not used in the printing room of Clare County Council, “not even in the environment section,” a horrified Cllr Roisin Garvey told a recent meeting of the local authority.
Her claim came during a discussion on a motion by Cllr Ann Norton (IND) requested details on the amount of paper used by the County Council and that they endeavour “to aim for a fifty percent reduction in twelve months”.
Ann Reynolds of Corporate Services in response highlighted that they in conjunction with Environmental Awareness Officer, Karen Foley are working towards complying with the Green Government Initiative “to phase out single use plastic, separate more waste and becoming more resource efficient. Paper reduction is an integral part of this initiative”. Subsequently recycling signage will be updated and a recycling workshop given to staff within the Council, “All waste paper is currently confidentially shredded and managed in a sustainable manner”.
“A number of organisational changes particularly around IT and record management would be required to reduce paper usage. There are ongoing efforts to optimise use of the council Staff Intranet and Councillor Extranet for circulation of reports, meeting agendas in an effort to reduce paper and increase efficiency. Some Councillors have opted to use electronic version of the Council meeting agenda and reports on the Extranet,” Reynolds stated.
Cllr Norton encouraged her fellow elected representatives to embrace technology to cut down on the amount of paper. “The younger generation in this country are looking for change. It is only when you see the amount of paperwork that comes in our own letter box that you realise the amount of paper that is being used. There isn’t a day that passes that we don’t get some information from Clare County Council, it might be something as simple as a date or time of a briefing. The majority of us have a smart-phone, I appreciate some people like to see an agenda in a paper version”.
As part of the request, Cllr Roisin Garvey (GP) asked that for any paper being used that it be at least recycled. “I passed by the printing room recently, they don’t use recycled paper not even in the environment section because of the quality of paper. For step one of Ann’s proposal, could we at least look at recycled paper. I don’t want anymore paper from the Council, it is complete madness, it should be an opt-in as to whether you receive correspondence in paper”.
For Trade Union meetings, “everything is sent through an app,” Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) commented, “but most importantly everything is archived”. Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) backed the proposal, “Cork City Council have gone completely paperless, we wouldn’t be the first the do it”.
Chief Executive Pat Dowling warned that such a request must satisfy all councillors. “If it is your wish to go paperless, so be it we will. We have to satisfy all members, we will go paperless but not at the expense of jeopardising some people’s membership”. He confirmed they were assessing “another system” where elected members can track all representations made with the Council. “We have to be balanced to the needs of all members,” Dowling concluded.