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AF&PA Testifies on How Paper and Wood Products Are Essential to the Circular Economy

Paper is one of the most recycled materials in the U.S.  

And paper recycling is one of the best examples of how our industry is part of the circular economy. 

On Wednesday, AF&PA's Brian Hawkinson delivered testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. 

The Committee met on Capitol Hill to discuss the importance of promoting a circular economy. 

Hawkinson highlighted the essential and sustainable nature of our products:  

“Paper and recycled paper are made from a renewable resource and used in a wide range of products with endless everyday applications,” he said.  

You will find these products in homes, schools, and businesses. From pizza boxes to note pads, tissues to paper towels, coffee cups to milk cartons and cardboard boxes – our products are essential. 

“The industry aims to advance a circular value chain and continue to improve the sustainability of our products,” Hawkinson added.  

“This includes innovating manufacturing processes, products, and packaging. And increasing the utilization of recycled fiber and wood residuals in manufacturing across the industry to 50% by 2030.

One example Hawkinson cited was Georgia-Pacific’s innovative Juno technology, that promises to enable paper mills to go deeper into waste streams to recover paper for use in manufacturing. 

AF&PA helps educate others about the importance of paper recycling. And that includes setting the record straight that, yes, pizza boxes are recycled every day at paper mills across the country. 

We also partner to help reduce contamination and increase participation in recycling programs.  

Paper recycling is a success story. Something Paper and Packaging Caucus Co-Chair Senator Debbie Stabenow pointed out during the hearing. Every year since 2009 the paper recycling rate has met or exceeded 63%. 

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance U.S. paper and wood products manufacturers through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. The forest products industry is circular by nature. AF&PA member companies make essential products from renewable and recyclable resources, generate renewable bioenergy and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative —Better Practices, Better Planet 2030: Sustainable Products for a Sustainable Future. The forest products industry accounts for approximately 5% of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures about $350 billion in products annually and employs about 925,000 people. The industry meets a payroll of about $65 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 43 states. Visit AF&PA online at or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper