Pulped fiction: 10,000 unsold comics and magazines for children destroyed weekly

Call to redistribute tens of thousands of publications to sick and needy

Every week, tens of thousands of unsold comics and magazines are returned from shops to retailers, who send them to be pulped, it’s been revealed.

Instead of this destruction, one national waste and recycling company suggests that they are redistributed at cost to hospitals and charities where they can be enjoyed.

According to the BusinessWaste.co.uk, there’s a particular problem with comics for children which have free gifts attached to the front cover, meaning they are often sent to be burned or buried in landfill.

“It’s an extraordinary waste,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk, spokesperson Mark Hall, “Because there are thousands of kids who’d appreciate those comics and gifts.”

BusinessWaste.co.uk, says that all of these unsold publications are perfectly saleable.

“While some of these are retained for the back issue market, huge numbers are simply destroyed within days of being replaced on the shelves by the next edition,” Hall says. “And with recycling figures stalling, it defies logic.”

Instead, Hall suggests, there should be an approved list of hospital children’s wards, nurseries, Sure Start centres and other organisations for young people which could receive a limited number of unsold comics and magazines for the enjoyment of patients and pupils.

Opportunity for charities

“It wouldn’t be a freebie,” Hall says, “The magazines could be bought back from the wholesalers at a price to cover their costs, and could even be funded by charitable donations.”

With the help of children’s charities – and this seems an excellent project for BBC Children in Need to become involved in – the gift of reading and play could easily be passed onto young people who need it the most, Business Waste proposes.

A straw poll carried out by BusinessWaste.co.uk, found firm backing for the idea among the British public:

• 94% said they’d support a charity-driven scheme
• 6% said they would not

“The nay-sayers have a valid point in that it might hit sales from the newsstands,” says Hall, “And that’s why we say such a scheme would be limited in scope to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“Shops and publishers have businesses to run, after all!”

One nurse told BusinessWaste.co.uk,: “You should see the books and comics that we have for the children – they’re falling apart at the seams, and I think even prisoners get a better deal. We rely on what parents bring in, but it’s depressing to see kids’ get bored because they have so little to read and do.

“A regular supply of recent comics and magazines would be brilliant,” she said.

There may even be scope to extend the idea to old people’s homes and hospital wards, where decent reading material is at a premium.

“It’s about improving people’s quality of life by keeping their brains active,” says Mark Hall.

Many doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries now use subscription schemes to keep their waiting rooms interesting with up-to-date magazines, and BusinessWaste.co.uk, says extending a charity scheme to the older generation would be careful not to tread on the toes of this expanding business model.

The aim, Hall says, is to stop magazines and comics going to waste by giving them to the people who need them most, but can’t usually get access to them.

“As a waste company we positively hate seeing perfectly good items destroyed,” he says, “And that’s why we want to see kids and comics reunited.

“It’ll be good for the environment, and it will be great for young imaginations, too.”

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