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Vast Majority of Americans Have Access to a Community Paper Recycling Program

94 Percent Have Access to Community Paper Recycling

CONTACT: Tim Ebner

WASHINGTON – The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) today released a new report indicating that the vast majority of Americans, 94 percent, have access to community paper and paperboard recycling programs. 

The 2021 AF&PA Access to Recycling Study also finds more Americans, 79 percent, now have access to residential-curbside programs making it easier to recycle paper at home – an increase of more than 14 million people since the 2014 study. 

“Paper and paper-based recycling programs are well-developed and widely accessible across the United States,” said AF&PA President and CEO Heidi Brock. “Household action and our industry’s investment in paper recycling are primary reasons why our industry recycles nearly twice as much paper today as it did more than three decades ago.”

Items such as corrugated cardboard, mail, newspapers, office paper, magazines, paperboard boxes with and without poly coatings, paper bags, liquid packaging cartons and pizza boxes have a consumer access rate of 60 percent or more.

“With such a high rate of collection, Americans can feel confident knowing that paper products, whether it’s the shipping box that lands at your doorstep or the box delivering your next pizza, can and should be recycled,” Brock said. “Those recycled paper fibers can be reused five to seven times to make new paper and cardboard products.”

The 2021 AF&PA Access to Recycling Study is a comprehensive national report that tracks and measures the growth of consumer access to community paper and paperboard recycling in the U.S. It is the latest in a series commissioned by AF&PA and conducted since 1994.

In 2021, the U.S. paper industry reached a record level for containerboard production and saw a 6.8 percent increase, compared to 2020, in the consumption of old-corrugated containers (OCC) at mills to make new products.

“Paper recycling continues to be an environmental success story with a positive impact on the broader circular economy,” Brock said. “Our industry has a demonstrated track record as a responsible producer. As part of our Better Practices, Better Planet 2030 sustainability goals, we are also committed to further advancing the circular value chain through the production of renewable and recyclable products to meet evolving customer needs.”

For more information and tips on paper recycling, including answers to common recycling questions, statistics, and more, visit: 

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