Newspapers are printed on newsprint, an uncoated groundwood paper made by mechanically grinding wood pulp without first removing lignin and other wood pulp components. Newspapers are the largest component by weight and volume of a curbside recycling program.

“Groundwood inserts,” the preprinted advertising inserts placed inside newspapers, supply 19 percent of the overall newspaper tonnage.

In 2005, approximately 53.3 million newspapers were sold every weekday by the 1452 daily U.S. newspapers, averaging 2.3 readers per copy. On Sunday, 914 newspapers sold 55.3 million papers, averaging 2.6 readers per copy. Additionally, 6659 weekly newspapers sold 49.5 million copies a week. Newspaper readership and advertising have slowly declined since 1990.

With $49 billion in advertising, newspapers captured 18 percent of the advertising market in 2005.

In 2005, newspaper generation was 4.9 million tons higher since 1960, but newspaper's solid waste market share had decreased by 40 percent. Newspaper recycling increased by 8.9 million tons and the recycling rate increased by 247 percent during this same period.

Newspaper Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Facts:


  • 12 million tons (9.8 million tons of newspaper and 2.2 million tons of inserts) or 4.9% by weight.*

  • 14 million tons according to industry.

  • 81.3 pounds per person per year.*


  • 10.7 million tons or a 88.9% recycled.*

  • 9.7 million tons or 70% in 2005 according to industry.

Recycled Content:

  • 32% for U.S. newspapers.

  • Voluntary or mandatory recycled fiber requirements in 27 states.


  • Highly compostable with only trace amounts of ink in the compost.

Incinerated or Landfilled:

  • 1.3 million tons or 0.8% of discarded MSW by weight.*

  • Per pound Btu value of 7500 is 50% higher than a pound of garbage.

Landfill Volume:

  • 15.3 million cubic yards in 1997.
  • 3.6% of landfilled MSW in 1997.


  • 12-inch stack weighs 35 pounds.

  • Loose, unbaled newspapers weigh 360-500 pounds per cubic yard (ppcy).

  • Baled papers weigh 720-1,000 ppcy.

  • Landfilled papers weigh 800 ppcy.

Source Reduction:

  • More newspapers per pound: from 93 in 1985 to 118 in 1995.

  • Online newspapers are an alternative.

Recycling Markets:

  • New newsprint is the largest market.

  • Other markets include exports, paperboard and other paper products, cellulose insulation and animal bedding.

End-Market Specifications:

  • ISRI grades include: 6 (news), 7 (de-ink quality news) and 8 (special news de-ink quality), address levels of contamination.

  • Newspapers should be dry and clean.


American Forest and Paper Association, Washington,

“Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 2005 Facts and Figures,” Office of Solid Waste, Washington,

“Measurement Standards and Reporting Guidelines,” National Recycling Coalition, Washington,

Newspaper Association of America, Falls Church, Va.,

“Scrap Specifications Circular 2006,” Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Washington, D.C.,

*2005 EPA estimates.