Sustainability and Paper Recycling

Members of the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) have a record of setting and achieving goals related to sustainability. Through Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 – the forest products industry’s sustainability initiative – we are raising the bar for ourselves to achieve even greater results for our industry, our communities and the environment in which we live.

Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 is one of the most extensive sets of quantifiable sustainability goals of any major U.S. manufacturing industry.

The six goals targeted within Better Practices focus on increasing paper recycling, improving energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting sustainable forestry practices, improving workplace safety and reducing water use.

AF&PA members have pledged to increase U.S. paper recovery for recycling to exceed 70 percent by 2020.

Industry-led efforts to increase paper recovery are among the best examples of how we are protecting our environment, preserving and growing the economic contributions of the industry and its businesses, and fostering the well-being of industry employees.

Paper recovery for recycling has reached or exceeded 63 percent each year since 2009, including 67.2 percent in 2016.

The paper industry’s recycling success leads the way for all other U.S. recycling efforts. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only 26 percent of glass, 20 percent of aluminum and 9.5 percent of plastics consumed were recovered for recycling in 2014, compared to 64.7 percent of paper.