The overall rate of U.S. paper recovery for recycling reached an all-time high of 68.1% in 2018, reports the American Forest & Paper Association.
The rate had been rising fairly steadily until 2017, when it dropped slightly, to 65.9% from 67.2% in 2016. AF&PA attributed the dip to China’s import restrictions on recovered products. Domestic mills increased their consumption of recovered paper 2.7% from 2017 to 2018, helping to drive the increased recovery rate, AF&PA says. The U.S. supply of paper and paperboard has steadily fallen in the past decade, from 89.8 million tons in 2008 to 77.3 million tons in 2018, while the volume recovered has increased slightly, from 51.8 million tons to 52.7 million tons. AF&PA’s sustainability initiative has set a goal of exceeding 70% paper recovery for recycling by 2020.
Even more striking is the uptick in OCC recovery which reached an historical high of 96.4% with 34,628,000 short tons recovered.