Sustainability and Paper Recycling

Members of the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) have a record of setting and achieving goals related to sustainability. Through Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 – the forest products industry’s sustainability initiative – we are raising the bar for ourselves to achieve even greater results for our industry, our communities and the environment in which we live.

Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 is one of the most extensive sets of quantifiable sustainability goals of any major U.S. manufacturing industry.

The six goals targeted within Better Practices focus on increasing paper recycling, improving energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting sustainable forestry practices, improving workplace safety and reducing water use.

AF&PA members have pledged to increase U.S. paper recovery for recycling to exceed 70 percent by 2020.

Industry-led efforts to increase paper recovery are among the best examples of how we are protecting our environment, preserving and growing the economic contributions of the industry and its businesses, and fostering the well-being of industry employees.

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.

The paper industry’s recycling success leads the way for all other U.S. recycling efforts. The paper industry’s recycling success leads the way for all other U.S. recycling efforts. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only 32.7 percent of steel, 26.6 percent of glass, 16.2 percent of aluminum and 8.4 percent of plastics consumed were recovered from municipal waste streams for recycling in 2017, compared to 65.9 percent of paper.