U.S. paper recovery rate reaches all-time high

Since it began measuring the U.S. paper recovery rate in 1990, rates have risen from 33.5% to 67.2% in 2016. AF&PA’s goal is 70% by 2020.

The annual paper recovery rate has doubled since 1990, and U.S. paper recovery has met or exceeded 63% for the past eight years.
The annual paper recovery rate has doubled since 1990, and U.S. paper recovery has met or exceeded 63% for the past eight years.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) has announced that a record 67.2% of paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling in 2016, upfrom 66.8% in 2015.

Consumption of recovered paper at U.S. paper and paperboard mills held generally stable at 30.8 million tons in 2016—down just 0.1% compared with the 2015 level—while exports rose 1.3% to 21.8 million tons. There are also some domestic uses of recovered paper outside the paper industry, including as base materials for insulation and molded pulp products.

The paper recovery rate measured 33.5% back in 1990, which was the base year against which the American Forest & Paper Association began setting its recovery goals.

AF&PA member companies have set a goal to increase the U.S. paper recovery rate to more than 70% by 2020 as part of its Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability initiative. The 2016 numbers represent continued progress towards meeting the goal.

“The voluntary, market-driven recovery system, the millions of Americans who recycle every day, and industry efforts to inform consumers about the importance of paper recycling continue to enable a high U.S. paper recovery rate,” says AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman.

“Paper recovery for recycling helps extend the useful life of paper and paper-based packaging products, making it an integral part of our industry’s sustainability story,” says AF&PA Board Chair and Clearwater Paper Corporation President and CEO Linda Massman.

The annual paper recovery rate has doubled since 1990, and U.S. paper recovery has met or exceeded 63% for the past eight years. The industry has a goal to exceed 70% paper recovery for recycling by 2020

More U.S. paper recovery rate statistics are available.

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