Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 Recovery Goal

GOAL: Exceed 70 percent rate of paper recovery for recycling by 2020.

Recovering paper for recycling…

… helps the environment. 


Recovering valuable resources extends the fiber supply, allowing our industry to reuse its products to make new ones. In addition, paper recovery saves landfill space — an average of 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space is saved for each ton of paper recycled.

…is important to the U.S. economy. Recovered paper that was sorted or processed in the U.S. had a 2015 market value of $7.8 billion. The value of U.S. recovered paper exports totaled $3.1 billion in 2015. Paper recovery has fostered a dynamic marketplace that allows recovered fiber to find its highest-value end. That in turn helps to encourage more recycling.

…is a collective effort. Paper recovery is possible thanks to the millions of Americans who recycle at home, work and school every day. In 2014, 96 percent of the U.S. population had access to curbside and/or drop-off paper recycling services. Our industry nurtures an environment where the rate of paper recovery continually increases. In 2016, 67.2 percent of all paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling, doubling our rate of paper recovery since 1990. The paper industry’s recycling success leads the way for all other U.S. recycling efforts. According to the EPA, only 26 percent of glass, 20 percent of aluminum and 9.5 percent of plastics were recovered in 2014 – compared to 64.7 percent of paper.

To continue to increase paper recovery for recycling, AF&PA creates materials to educate consumers about the kinds of paper and paper-based packaging that are recyclable and to encourage people to place paper products that are clean and dry in their recycling bins. As an inaugural funding member of The Recycling Partnership, AF&PA helps to create public-private partnerships to build communities’ recycling infrastructure and improve consumer recycling outreach and education, giving partner communities the capacity to generate more and better quality recyclable materials.