Since 1987, the amount of paper recovered for recycling has increased by 98%. For specific product categories such as newsprint and corrugated containers, the recovery rates are at an unprecedented 71% and 74% respectively.
The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) recently increased its paper recovery goal to 55% of all paper consumed in the U.S. by 2012. This new recovery goal represents an increase over today's paper recovery levels by the equivalent of 23 Empire State Buildings filled with paper each year.
"The paper industry continues to represent an outstanding success story in the progress of national recycling efforts," AF&PA President and CEO W. Henson Moore said at the time. "By setting an aggressive 55% paper recovery goal, the association is once again raising the bar in the area of paper recycling and renewing its challenge to recycle more high quality paper."
Recovered paper is an important raw material for the U.S. paper industry. More than 80% of all paper mills in the U.S. use recovered paper to make their products.
Of the paper currently recovered in the United States, 96% is recycled into new paper products and the balance is used in other applications. Nearly 38% of all raw material used to make new paper comes from recycled paper and nearly 200 U.S. paper mills use recovered paper exclusively to make their products.
As domestic and export demand for U.S. recovered fiber continues to grow, the paper industry runs the risk of seeing existing recycled paper and paperboard capacity idled due to insufficient amounts of recovered paper available to make new paper products. To meet this anticipated domestic and export demand growth, even more high-quality paper needs to be recovered for recycling.
To achieve this goal, AF&PA has developed partnerships with the U.S. EPA, Keep America Beautiful, and others to educate and encourage towns and cities, office buildings, schools, and private citizens to recover more high-quality papers in their communities and workplaces.
"Through increased paper recovery, we can ensure that citizens, municipalities, businesses, and the paper industry continue to be responsible stewards of the environment, strong participants in the American economy, and leaders in utilizing all available resources in the production of recycled content products," said Moore.