In 2003 the U.S. paper recovery rate achieved an all-time high of 50.3%. Paper recovery has increased steadily from 33.5% in 1990, to its present level of 50.3%. Total U.S. paper recovery reached 49.3 million tons in 2003, an increase of 3.4% from 2002, and 69% since 1990. This impressive accomplishment was made possible by the efforts of American Forest & Paper Association member companies and millions of Americans who recycle at home, school, and at work. Paper recovery now averages 339 pounds for each man, woman, and child in the United States, up from 233 pounds per person in 1990.
Recycling generated impressive results in 2003. However, more needs to be done to boost the amount of recycled materials available to make new products, by continuing to increase the amount of paper and paperboard recovered for recycling. Export demand for U.S. recovered paper, particularly from nations with developing paper industries such as China and India, has been expanding rapidly, and by all indications will continue to increase. At the same time, with the U.S. paper industry pulling out of a multi-year slump, domestic mills will seek to maintain or increase their consumption of recovered paper.
With these considerations in mind, American Forest & Paper Association, acting on behalf of its member companies, has established a goal to recover 55% of all paper consumed in the United States by 2012. This ambitious goal can only be achieved if individuals, businesses, communities, and the paper industry continue their efforts to recover more high quality paper for recycling.
Learn more about recycling at PaperRecycles.org.