Paper Recovery & Landfill

The amount of paper going to landfills is estimated to have declined by more than half since 2003. The decline was partly attributable to a rise in the paper recovery rate from 55 percent in 2003 to over 67 percent in 2016. In addition to recycling, some paper is diverted from landfills because it is disposed of in other ways such as via incineration with energy recovery or, in the case of bathroom tissue, via the sewer system.  

2016 Paper Recovery & Landfill

Paper Recovered
(million tons)
Paper Landfilled
(million tons)
1993 35.5 37.8
1994 39.7 38.0
1995 42.2 36.4
1996 43.1 34.6
1997 44.0 37.3
1998 45.1 38.3
1999 46.8 41.7
2000 47.3 41.1
2001 47.0 37.2
2002 47.6 39.1
2003 49.3 46.4
2004 50.2 35.7
2005 51.3 35.4
2006 53.3 34.9
2007 54.3 36.0
2008 51.8 33.0
2009 50.0 21.4
2010 51.5 24.3
2011 52.8 22.7
2012   51.1  23.1
2013 50.1 23.2 
2014 51.2 22.4 
2015   52.0  21.1
2016  52.2  20.9