News Category

U.S. Paper Industry Achieves Consistently High Recycling Rate

May 12, 2020

CONTACT: Tim Ebner / Lindsay Murphy
(202) 463-2436, comm@afandpa.org

66.2 Percent of Paper Consumed Recovered for Recycling in 2019

WASHINGTON – The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) today announced 66.2 percent of paper consumed in the United States was recovered for recycling in 2019. Over the last decade, the U.S. paper industry achieved a consistently high recycling rate, meeting or exceeding 63 percent since 2009 — a rate that’s nearly doubled since 1990, when the industry first set a paper recycling goal. The recycling rate for old corrugated containers (OCC) in 2019 was 92.0 percent, and the three-year average OCC recycling rate is 92.3 percent.

“Paper recycling continues to be an environmental success story,” said AF&PA President and CEO Heidi Brock. “More than twice as much paper is recycled than is sent to landfills, saving an average of 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space for each ton of paper recycled. This is a testament to consumer behavior and an industry commitment to paper recycling. AF&PA members continue to invest in manufacturing infrastructure that will allow us to recycle even more paper in the years ahead.”

Paper recycling helps extend the life of paper and paper-based packaging products, making it an integral part of the industry’s sustainability story. Recycled paper fibers can be used at least seven times to make new and innovative paper products. 

For more information about U.S. paper recycling statistics, paper recycling and AF&PA’s commitment to sustainability, visit www.paperrecycles.org

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The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance a sustainable U.S. pulp, paper, packaging, tissue and wood products manufacturing industry through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. AF&PA member companies make products essential for everyday life from renewable and recyclable resources and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative — Better Practices, Better Planet 2020. The forest products industry accounts for approximately four percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures nearly $300 billion in products annually and employs approximately 950,000 men and women. The industry meets a payroll of approximately $55 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 45 states. Visit AF&PA online at afandpa.org or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper.