Reaching New Heights in Paper Recovery for Recycling by Modeling Effective Practices

Feb 21, 2014
  By Brian Hawkinson
  Executive Director, Recovered Fiber

  The paper industry has set a goal to exceed 70 percent recovery
  for recycling by the year 2020 as part of AF&PA’s Better Practices
  Better Planet 2020
sustainability initiative. 

 With a 2012 recovery rate of more than 65 percent, we’re well on our way.  So you may ask, “What is the industry doing to help achieve the 70 percent recovery goal?”

One way AF&PA promotes increased paper recovery for recycling is with the annual AF&PA Recycling Awards. The awards recognize and reward outstanding recycling efforts in schools, businesses and communities.  And AF&PA leverages what we learn from them by creating case studies from award-winning efforts as models for other schools, businesses and communities to identify and adapt effective practices into their own paper recycling efforts. 

Here are some great examples:

School – 2013 School Award winner Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, Ohio, began collecting paper and paper-based packaging for recycling in 2009. By 2012, the recycling program successfully recovered more than 90 percent of the paper and paper-based packaging generated on the school campus. A strong service component – inherent in the curriculum and culture – is credited with helping to achieve such rapid and impressive results.

Business – Through a combination of outreach and education to tenants, the 32-story office building One American Center, Austin, Texas, reaped big paper recovery results. The 2012 Business Leadership Award winner’s occupants - who are educated about the program through newsletters, building-wide events, a website, educational brochures and flyers - recovered more than 505 pounds of paper per tenant in 2011.

Community – A comprehensive education and outreach program helped 2011 Community Award winner  Onondaga County (New York) Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA) achieve new heights in paper recycling – recovering more per capita than any other large community in New York.  OCRRA relies on engagement with businesses, schools, and apartment complexes to achieve outstanding levels of community-wide paper and paper-based packaging recycling.

Want to find great ideas to help improve your recycling program?  Check out  to see what you can learn from recent AF&PA Recycling Award winners.