Paper Recycling

Paper recovery for recycling is a national success because of the commitment millions of Americans make each day to recycling at home, at work, or at school.

Our industry’s success in paper recovery is largely attributed to the voluntary, market-driven product recovery system that we and so many others have fostered.  The recovery rate for paper consumed in the U.S. has nearly doubled since 1990, when we first committed to setting and reaching paper recovery goals.  The paper recovery rate remains strong, exceeding 60 percent each year since 2009.  We realized the second-highest recovery rate for paper in 2012 at 65.1 percent.  The annual achievements we are making in paper recovery continue to be above the trend line for AF&PA to achieve its goal of exceeding 70 percent paper recovery for recycling by 2020, as part of our sustainability initiative – Better Practices, Better Planet 2020

To support that goal, AF&PA has created a variety of free materials and resources to support paper recycling programs in communities, schools, and businesses. 

Policy

AF&PA's goal is to ensure a continuing, expanding domestic recovered fiber supply to help meet global demand.

Paper recycling reuses a renewable resource that sequesters carbon and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas reductions result from avoided methane emissions. In addition, recovering paper extends the fiber supply.

Paper recovery is an environmental success story. Recovered fiber markets are complex, efficient, and dynamic and are not served by regulations or prescriptive approaches to specify the use of recycled fibers or dictate what type of recovered fiber is used in products. AF&PA opposes recycled content mandates and should seek to defeat or amend legislation to ensure the focus remains on increasing paper recovery, not content mandates. AF&PA opposes flow control mandates.

The distinction between pre- and post- consumer content is not meaningful and should not be used in government policies. We support allowing our companies to, once again, issue tax-exempt bonds to finance recycling facilities.