Where Recovered Paper Goes

Data for the year 2018 indicate that 36.2 percent of the paper and paperboard recovered in the U.S. went to produce containerboard (i.e., the material used for corrugated boxes) and 11.5 percent went to produce boxboard, which includes basestock for folding boxes and gypsum wallboard facings.

Notwithstanding China’s policies to limit imports of mixed recovered paper, total net exports of recovered paper to China and other nations accounted for 38.3 percent of the paper collected for recycling in the U.S. in 2017, up from 37.7 percent in 2017.

Where Recovered Paper Goes


Paper/Packaging Type Thousand Tons Recovered Share of Total
Tissue 4,409 8.4%
Containerboard 19,082 36.2%
Boxboard 6,073 11.5%
Newsprint & Other* 2,943 5.6%
Net Exports 20,170 38.3%
Total 52,676 100%

Source 2018 Data: Annual Capacity and Fiber Consumption Survey; U.S. Bureau of Census
*Other includes printing-writing, Kraft packaging & Industrial  converting, construction paper and board, molded pulp 
Source for Tons Recovered: AF&PA's "Annual Capacity and Fiber Consumption Survey"