Back-to-School Education Tools from the Paper Industry

Aug 16, 2017

hazen-WebSpear_Gretchen-WebBy ​Cortney Hazen
Manager, Recovered Fiber

By Gretchen Spear
Director, Packaging & Government Affairs


 It’s back-to-school time! How many paper and paper-based packaging items can you find in your classroom or backpack? Printer paper, crayon boxes, #2 and colored pencil boxes, paper towels, notebooks, folders, books, index cards, facial tissue, etc. Paper and paper-based packaging are all around our schools and at home.

As teachers and students head back to school this month, the paper industry wants to share the classroom resources and materials available to teachers and students. The paper and paper-based packaging industry’s interactive and educational classroom materials and projects offer an opportunity to learn about our sustainability efforts and the role paper and paper-based packaging play in our lives.

The paper-based packaging industry, through the Responsible Package initiative[i], offers interactive materials for fifth grade teachers to help educate students on the versatile and sustainable packaging solutions provided by paper-based packaging and the role the products have in our homes and schools. One of the activities has students work in teams to discover reuse and recycling opportunities in their school. It creates awareness to motivate the student body to actively use paper-based packaging, recycle and reuse through a school scavenger hunt. Additionally, the materials help students and their parents recognize that paper-based packaging is a responsible choice. Visit the, to download classroom and at-home activities for teachers, students and their families.

Once the teachers, students and families have used their paper and paper-based packaging, the paper industry encourages recycling. To encourage increased paper recycling, AF&PA created materials to educate consumers about best paper recycling practices and how to determine what to shred before recycling and what can go straight into recycling bins. AF&PA has also created a guide on how to start a recycling program in your school. Encouraging and enabling recycling is an integral part of this industry’s sustainable practices. In order to reach our paper recovery goal of 70 percent by 2020, the industry has worked with partners to promote increased recovery in communities, on college campuses, in schools, and businesses. These materials can be found at

A frequently asked question is “can I recycle this?” in reference to a variety of products. Since different communities accept different materials, it’s important to check with your community on what can go in the recycling bin. To ensure that paper is recycled into new products, the quality of the paper you put in the recycling bin is important. Take a minute and watch an informative video created by AF&PA on what is recyclable. It can be viewed at

Millions of people make the decision to recycle at school and home every day. Thank you for doing your part to make paper recycling a success!

[i] The Responsible Package initiative’s sponsoring organizations include the American Forest & Paper Association, AICC – The Independent Packaging Association, Corrugated Packaging Alliance, Fibre Box Association, Paper Shipping Sack Manufacturer’s Association, Renewable Bag Council and TAPPI.