USA: Paper Recovery Rate Reached 67.2 Percent in 2016

According to the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), a record 67.2 percent of paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling in 2016. As reported, the annual paper recovery rate has doubled since 1990 and U.S. paper recovery has met or exceeded 63 percent for the past eight years.

The industry has a goal to exceed 70 percent paper recovery for recycling by 2020 as part of its “Better Practices, Better Planet 2020” sustainability initiative. In 2016, consumption of recovered paper at U.S. paper and paperboard mills held generally stable at 30.8 million tons – down just 0.1 percent compared with the 2015 level – while exports rose 1.3 percent to 21.8 million tons. There are also some domestic uses of recovered paper outside the paper industry, including base materials for insulation and molded pulp products. Data for the year 2016 indicate that 33.7 percent of the paper and paperboard recovered in the U.S. went to produce containerboard (i.e., the material used for corrugated boxes) and 11.8 percent went to produce boxboard, which includes basestock for folding boxes and gypsum wallboard facings.

Net exports of recovered paper to China and other nations accounted for 40 percent of the paper collected for recycling in the U.S. in 2016.

Photo: O. Kürth

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