U.S. paper industry records high recycling rate in 2022

The American Forest & Paper Association has confirmed that nearly 68% of paper consumed in the U.S. (67.9%) was recycled in 2022.

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.

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