Paper Recycling Reaches All-Time High

The U.S. recycled a record amount of paper in 2010.

The U.S. paper recycling rate reached 63.5 percent in 2010, according to the Washington-based American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA). The rate marks a slight uptick from 2009, when 63.4 percent of the paper consumed in the United States was recycled, and is an all-time high, according to Chuck Fuqua, spokesman for AF&PA. The recycling rate was 57.4 percent in 2008.

The rise of paper recycling in the United States largely can be attributed to three factors, Fuqua says: access, education and the increasing desire of the public to “be green.”

In 2010, 87 percent of the U.S. population had access to either a curbside recycling program and/or a community drop-off center, Fuqua says, citing a recent R.W. Beck study. The effects of paper-recycling education efforts by organizations such as AF&PA, Scholastic Inc. and Keep America Beautiful have been significant as well, he adds.

“It’s a situation where the public has been armed with the information and the access, and they also have the desire,” Fuqua says.

AF&PA, which is the national trade association of the forest products industry, also announced recently that it has set a goal of a national paper recycling rate of more than 70 percent by 2020. Additionally, the group recently named its 2011 Recycling Award winners:

Business Leadership Award: MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas

Community Recycling Award: Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency, Onondaga, N.Y.

School Recycling Award: Purdy High School, Purdy, Mo.

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