Paper and Packaging Recovery, Fees and Bans


Thanks to voluntary recycling programs, industry leadership and the efforts of millions of Americans who recycle at home, work and school every day, the national paper recovery rate has nearly doubled since 1990. Despite this unparalleled, industry-led progress, state and local governments are considering measures such as traditional extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs that put the burden of collection and disposal of packaging and printed paper on brand owners and manufacturers.

Traditional EPR targeting paper and packaging obligate manufacturers and/or brand owners to assume all costs associated with managing waste from their products; or take back all of their products and packaging. This leads to increased costs for consumers and creates market distortions in the free flow of recyclable commodities.

Recently EPR advocates have expanded to call for a larger range of options such as landfill/disposal bans, recycling mandates, food service packaging bans, bottle bills, container bans, product taxes, waste directives and product specific fees or bans on packaging or printed paper. While the intention of these initiatives is to increase recycling rates — they also result in increased costs for consumers, manufacturers and the general U.S. paper products industry.

AF&PA seeks to defeat or amend these initiatives. We support voluntary paper and paper-based packaging recovery efforts; and work with state and local governments and non-governmental organizations to improve and expand existing recovery and recycling programs.

Paper Recycling in the U.S.

  • Each year since 2011, 63 percent or more of paper used in the U.S. has been recovered for recycling and in 201​5, the paper recovery rate exceeded 6​6.8 percent.
  • The amount of paper going to landfills has declined by more than half since 2000.
  • In 2014, 96 percent of Americans had access to community curbside and/or drop-off paper recycling.

Continued Industry-Led Efforts

The industry’s sustainability initiative, Better Practices, Better Planet 2020, includes a goal to increase paper recovery for recycling to exceed 70 percent.

For more information on the industry’s sustainability goals, and resources to improve paper recycling efforts, visit and