The Paper Recycling Success Story

Thanks to the industry’s support, the recycling rate for paper and paper-based packaging has met or exceeded 63 percent every year since 2009.

That’s great news for the environment and for the paper industry. In fact, the annual paper recovery rate in the U.S. has nearly doubled since 1990, making it an American success story.

AF&PA’s sustainability initiative, Better Practices, Better Planet 2020, includes an industry goal to further increase paper recovery for recycling to exceed 70 percent by 2020.

Paper Recycling…

Extends the useful life of fiber

  • Approximately 80 percent of all U.S. paper mills use some recovered fiber to make everything from paper-based packaging to tissue products to office paper and newspaper.

Keeps paper out of landfills

  • More than twice as much paper is recycled than is sent to landfills.
  • Every ton of paper recovered for recycling saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • By weight, more paper is recovered for recycling from municipal solid waste streams than glass, plastic, steel and aluminum combined, according to EPA.

Is widely accessible

  • In 2014, 96 percent of Americans had access to community curbside and/or drop-off paper recycling programs.

Reduces GHG emissions

  • AF&PA member companies’ use of recovered fiber resulted in avoided greenhouse gas emissions of more than 19 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents in 2018.