AF&PA release 64th Paper industry capacity and consumption survey

The American Forest & Paper Association has released the 64th Paper Industry Annual Capacity and Fiber Consumption Survey. The report provides detailed data on U.S. paper industry capacity and production compiled by the AF&PA statistics team.

U.S. paper and paperboard capacity declined by 1.6% in 2023, to 79.7 million tons. That compares to an average decline of 0.9% per year since 2014. U.S. paper and paperboard production declined 7.2% last year, with declines in all categories except tissue.

Four machines totaling 2.1 million tons of containerboard and packaging paper capacity started up during 2023, all using 100 percent recycled fiber. However, more than 1.7 million tons of capacity, mostly using wood fiber, was permanently removed in 2023 as the industry faced demand weakness from customer destocking and economic headwinds.

Containerboard capacity declined 0.7% in 2023. Despite consecutive declines in 2022 and 2023, containerboard capacity is at near-record levels due to 11 consecutive years of growth averaging 1.6% from 2011 to 2021.Containerboard share of total paper and paperboard capacity has exceeded 50% since 2021.

Packaging paper capacity increased 4.8%. All of the growth came in unbleached packaging papers. Meanwhile, boxboard capacity declined 2.0% percent in 2023. There have been 2 announcements of plans to add boxboard capacity in 2025 to meet demand for paper-based consumer packaging.

Printing-writing capacity dropped 5.0% in 2023, lower than the 3-year and 10-year trend of 7.1% and 6.9% declines, respectively. This brings printing-writing capacity below 10 million tons for the first time in more than 50 years. Printing-writing capacity accounted for just 12% of total paper and paperboard capacity in 2023, down from 28% in 2000 when electronic communication became widespread.

Tissue capacity declined 0.9% in 2023. In spite of two consecutive year-over-year declines, tissue capacity has now increased at an average annual rate of 0.4% from 2014 to 2023.

The complete Survey is available for purchase; contact [email protected]

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