The paper recycling rate held approximately steady to the 2021 rate and has remained consistently high. In fact, the paper recycling rate has met or exceeded 63% each year since 2009. The industry first voluntarily set a goal to help improve paper recycling back in the 1990s. The recycling rate has more than doubled since that time.
In 2022, the recycling rate for OCC was 93.6%, an increase over last year’s rate. Meanwhile, the 3-year average (2020-2022) for OCC was 91.3%.
“Paper and cardboard continue to be some of the most-recycled material in the U.S.,” said Heidi Brock, President and CEO, AF&PA. “Paper recycling is also one of the best examples of how we, as a society, are working to respect our environment and contribute to a circular economy.”
The paper industry has completed or announced nearly $7 bn in manufacturing investments from 2019-2025 that will use more than 9 million tons of recovered fiber.
“Paper recycling is a success story, and our industry’s commitment continues,” Brock said. “We’re working to use even more recycled paper in manufacturing and set a goal to increase the use of secondary materials like recycled paper in new paper products to 50% by 2030. These recycled paper products are a key component to our circular value chain.”
The paper industry also has a real ownership stake in the recycling system. AF&PA members own more than 100 materials recovery facilities nationwide. They are continuously working to innovate and improve technology, especially when it comes to paper recycling.