Paper Recovery Rate Tops 50 Percent

No. 124 Tuesday, June 29, 2004Page A-1 ISSN 1521-9402
Recycling Paper Recovery Rate Tops 50 Percent
In 2003, an All-Time High, Report Says

More than half of the paper consumed in the United States during 2003 was
recovered, a trade group said June 28, describing the rate as an all-time
high in the history of paper recycling.
The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) said in the 2004 edition
of its annual Recovered Paper Statistical Highlights that 49.3 million
tons of paper, or 50.3 percent of the paper consumed in the nation in
2003, was recovered.
Fred von Zuben, chairman of the AF&PA Recovered Fiber CEO Committee, told
BNA the association had set a 50 percent recovery goal in 1995, as well as
a 55 percent recovery goal to be reached by 2012.
"At the moment, there is a great need for recovered fiber," he said.
Paper recovery has generally been on the upswing during the past 15 years,
according to the association. The 2003 rate reflects an increase of 69
percent from the 1990 level of 33.5 percent and is a 3.4 percent increase
from the 2002 rate of 48.2 percent or 47.6 million tons, the association
Far more paper is recovered for recycling than is sent to landfills, the
report said. While 49.3 million tons was recovered in 2003, 37.7 million
tons wound up in landfills.
In addition, the association said, paper that is not recycled might go to
waste-to-energy facilities or wind up in permanent or semipermanent
applications, such as construction projects. AF&PA said every ton of paper
recovered for recycling saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
AF&PA described the recovery level as even more impressive, given that
approximately 10 percent of paper and paperboard cannot be recovered.
More than 80 percent of all paper mills in the United States use recovered
paper to make their products, the association continued. This recovered
paper represents 37 percent of the raw material used to make new paper and
paper products. The remaining 13 percent of the more than 50 percent of
paper recovered is targeted for other uses such as insulation and exports,
von Zuben said.

Industry Investment

During the past five years, von Zuben said, the paper industry has
invested billions of dollars on upgrading its ability to recycle paper,
and now all that is needed to increase the percentage of paper recycled is
the paper.
"As more paper products enter the home and office for work and pleasure,
there is additional potential for greater recovery of high-quality
products such as white computer paper, copier paper, office stationery and
paperboard packaging," von Zuben said in a statement. "Greater recovery of
these paper products will help ensure a steady, reliable supply of
recovered paper for our country's paper manufacturers."
To help achieve its 55 percent goal, the association said, AF&PA in 2002
entered into public-private partnerships with the Environmental Protection
Agency, Keep America Beautiful, CarrAmerica, an office management company,
and others to encourage localities, office buildings, schools, and
individuals to recover more high-quality paper in their communities and
For example, last year, the association began participating with EPA's
WasteWise program.
"This is a new relationship we've tried to establish within the past year,
working as partners, not as enemies for the first time," von Zuben told
An EPA spokesman could not be reached for comment. According to the
agency, WasteWise partners submit annual reports and have access to agency
assistance in developing and implementing quantifiable waste reduction
programs. EPA launched the waste reduction program in 1994. Program
partners commit to initiating, expanding, or improving company programs to
collect recyclables.
WasteWise partners in the forest and paper products industry have set
goals to develop and market recyclable corrugated shipping pallets, and to
identify customers with significant waste associated with paper products
and integrate recycling services into business relationships, according to

The American Forest and Paper Association's Recovered Paper Statistical
Highlights is available

By Linda Roeder

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