The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) has confirmed that 65.7% 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% – 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 22.8m tons. The recycling rate for OCC was 88.8% and the three-year average was 92.4%.
“In an unprecedented and dynamic year defined by COVID-19, almost two-thirds of paper was recycled and transformed into new sustainable paper products,” said Heidi Brock, President and CEO, AF&PA. “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.”
Brock concludes, “Paper recycling continues to be a success, and the U.S. paper industry plays an essential role. Our industry leadership remains strong with $4.1bn in manufacturing infrastructure investments, announced, planned or made, from 2019-2023, to continue the best use of recycled fiber in our products.”