Paper Bags One-Pager



Paper Bags

AF&PA advocates for market-based policies and consumer choice in packaging materials. We oppose mandates and taxes on recyclable and reusable paper and paper-based packaging products.

Paper Bags are Recyclable, Reusable, Compostable and Made From a Renewable Resource

  • The U.S. paper recovery rate reached 67.2 percent in 2016 — meeting or exceeding 63 percent for the past eight years.
  • Paper bags are made from a renewable resource — trees. The U.S. grows more trees than it harvests. There are 20 percent more trees in the U.S. now than there was on the first Earth Day in 1970.
  • 96 percent of the U.S. population has access to paper and paperboard community recycling programs.
  • Paper bags are ideal containers to use for composting residential yard and food waste, and are compostable themselves.

Mandating Recycled Content in Products Does Not Drive Recycling Rates

  • Recycled fiber content mandates can have unintended economic and environmental effects. Rather than drive increased recovery of paper, mandating minimum recycled content only shifts the available supply of fiber to other products where it is less efficiently used.
  • Global demand for recovered fiber has been growing at a rapid rate. From 2006 to 2016, global consumption of recovered fiber grew 23 percent and consumption is expected to grow another 24 percent from 2016–2025.1 
  • Local and state governments should partner with industry, environmental groups, and consumers on programs to increase paper recovery.

Taxing Paper Bags is a Solution in Search of a Problem

  • Government imposed product taxes increase costs for consumers and can create distortions in the free flow of recoverable commodities.
  • Imposing a tax on paper products discourages consumers from using products that are recyclable, compostable, made of recycled material, and reusable.
  • Offering a paper bag free of charge at the point of purchase is a natural part of customer service. Many services are included in the price of the goods consumers already buy, such as rent, electricity, insurance and employee wages. Once there is an obligation to pay fees for bags, those fees are likely to increase over time.
  • Government imposed fees remitted to the retailer influences procurement decisions and creates an un-level playing field.
1 RISI, International Recovered Paper Figures, December 2016 data