Statistics

Paper & Paperboard Recycling

The 2019 paper recycling rate was 66.2 percent – down from 68.0 percent in 2018 but slightly higher than the 65.9 percent rate in 2017. The decline was largely the result of a sharp drop in recovered paper exports (-13.6 percent) – mainly to China as the result of the country’s import restrictions.

The paper recycling rate measured 33.5 percent in 1990, which was the base year against which the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) began setting its recycling goals. Every year since 2009 the paper recycling rate has met or exceeded 63 percent.

AF&PA member companies are continuing to work toward a goal to increase the U.S. paper recycling rate to more than 70 percent by the end of 2020.

Recovery Rate Graphs 2020_Paper and Paperboard Recovery-source

Supply
(000 tons)
Recycled
(000 tons)
   Recycling Rate
1990 86,796 29,112 33.5%
1991 85,071 31,201 36.7%
1992 88,273 33,954 38.5%
1993 91,538 35,460 38.7%
1994 95,718 39,691 41.5%
1995 95,971 42,189 44.0%
1996 94,529 43,076 45.6%
1997 99,557 43,989 44.2%
1998 101,183 45,077 44.6%
1999 105,316 46,818 44.5%
2000 102,810 47,311 46.0%
2001 97,395 46,996 48.3%
2002 98,949 47,645 48.2%
2003 98,018 49,255 50.3%
2004 101,884 50,187 49.3%
2005 99,613 51,272 51.5%
2006 100,665 53,314 53.0%
2007 97,007 54,325 56.0%
2008 89,838 51,822 57.7%
2009 78,711 50,036 63.6%
2010 81,784 51,545 63.0%
2011 79,444 52,767 66.4%
2012  78,619 51,092  65.0% 
2013 78,761 50,128 63.6%
2014 78,504 51,171 65.2%
2015  77,895   52,040   66.8% 
2016  77,729   52,196   67.2% 
2017  77,146
 50,822
 65.9% 
2018 75,505  52,676 68.0%
2019 74,238   49,176  66.2%
Source: AF&PA’s “Paper Industry Annual Statistical Summary”