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Resilient U.S. Paper Industry Maintains High Recycling Rate in 2020

NWRA Publishes Update on Recyclables Market
Record U.S. Mill Consumption of Old Corrugated Containers and 65.7 Percent of Paper Consumed in the United States Was Recycled

WASHINGTON – The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) today announced that 65.7 percent of paper consumed in the United States was recycled in 2020, maintaining a recycling rate that has been consistently high for over a decade. Since 2009, paper recycling has met or exceeded 63 percent—nearly double the rate the U.S. paper industry achieved in 1990.

Meanwhile, U.S. mill consumption of old corrugated containers (OCC) reached a record level in 2020 of 22.8 million tons. The recycling rate for OCC was 88.8 percent, and the three-year average was 92.4 percent.

“In an unprecedented and dynamic year defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, almost two-thirds of paper was recycled and transformed into new sustainable paper products,” said AF&PA President and CEO Heidi Brock. “The resilience and commitment of our industry is notable, as is engagement of consumers in the paper recycling process. The result is a consistent and high rate for paper recycling.”

Paper recycling helps extend the life of fiber, creating new sustainable paper-based packaging products and advancing the circular economy.

“Paper recycling continues to be a success, and the U.S. paper industry plays an essential role,” Brock said. “Our industry leadership remains strong with $4.1 billion in manufacturing infrastructure investments, announced, planned or made, from 2019-2023, to continue the best use of recycled fiber in our products.”

For more information about U.S. paper recycling statistics, paper recycling and AF&PA’s commitment to sustainability, please visit: afandpa.org

TAGS: Recycling
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