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Recycling Records

Paper and plastic bag recycling hit all-time highs.

The U.S. paper recycling rate climbed to 63.4 percent in 2009, according to the Washington-based American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA). The rate is an all-time high, and 2009 represents the first time that the rate has tallied at least 60 percent. AF&PA had set a goal of reaching the 60-percent mark by 2012.

“Recycling is one of America's great environmental success stories, and the paper industry is proud of our ongoing leadership role in this area,” said AF&PA president and CEO Donna Harman in a press release. In 2008, the paper-recycling rate was 57.4 percent, up from 56 percent the year before.

Meanwhile, approximately 832.4 million pounds of post-consumer film, which includes plastic bags and product wrapping, were recycled in 2008, a new record according to the “2008 National Postconsumer Recycled Plastic Bag and Film Report,” which was compiled by Sonoma, Calif.-based Moore Recycling Associates.

The total also represents a 28 percent increase from 2005. “The boost in recycling was driven by greater consumer access to collection programs, primarily at large grocery and retail stores, as well as by new markets for these recycled materials,” says a press release summarizing the report.

“More Americans are recycling plastic bags and film than ever before, driven by a growing recognition that plastic is a valuable resource — too valuable to waste,” said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council, in the press release.

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