By Brian Hawkinson
Executive Director, Recovered Fiber
Every October is an exciting time for the industry as we celebrate National Forest Products Week and remind the world of the many benefits of recycling paper and paper-based packaging. At home, school and the workplace, paper recycling is widely accessible, well supported and highly effective. And it matters.
It matters to the paper and paper-based packaging industry. Recovering this valuable resource extends the fiber supply and allows our industry to reuse its products to make new ones. Paper and paper-based packaging manufacturers reuse recycled paper every day. In fact, in 2016 U.S. paper and paper-based packaging manufacturers consumed more than 30 million tons of recycled paper to make new products from corrugated containers to paperboard boxes to writing paper and tissue.
It matters to communities. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, paper and paper-based packaging are recovered from municipal solid waste streams at a higher rate than other materials. More than twice as much paper and paper-based packaging was recovered for recycling than was sent to landfills in 2016.
It matters to the environment. In 2016, 67.2 percent of paper and paper-based packaging in the U.S. was recovered for recycling. That works out to more than 52 million tons. And on average, each ton of paper recovered for recycling saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
It matters to millions of Americans who recycle at home, school and work every day. This commitment to participate in the voluntary, market-driven paper recovery system has enabled paper recycling to become successful. Ultimately, paper recycling advances because millions of people make the decision to recycle at home, work and school every day.
So please keep using paper and paper-based packaging products. They are made from renewable and recyclable materials that sustain the environment. And when you have finished using them, please place your clean, dry paper and paper-based packaging in the recycling bin. It matters!