Paper and paperboard are some of the most widely recycled materials in the world. Paper recycling recovers fiber that can be used to manufacture other paper products, producing jobs while protecting the environment.

Recycled paper is used to create products such as new paper, tissue, pizza boxes, cardboard delivery boxes, greeting cards, and many other paper-based products.

Paper Recycling is Essential
Economic Impact

The paper recycling industry’s total annual economic impact in the United States is over $35 billion and supports 145,000 jobs.

Recovered Fiber is Widespread

About 80 percent of U.S. paper mills rely on recovered fiber to make some or all their products, due in part to recovered fiber’s significant cost and energy savings compared with virgin fiber.

Saving the Earth

Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space. Since 1990, Americans have recycled more than 1.4 billion tons of recovered paper and fiber.

Using Far Less Energy

Manufacturing paper and paperboard with recycled materials uses up to 68 percent less energy than virgin paper materials.

A Valuable Commodity

The U.S. exported 18.5 million tons of recovered fiber in 2019, generating nearly $2.8 billion in export sales.

Fun Facts
  • In 2017, the amount of paper recovered for recycling averaged 315 lbs. for each man, woman, and child in the United States.
  • The first-ever industry specification for a recyclable commodity was for linen rags, likely used in papermaking.


Joe Pickard
Chief Economist
Director, Commodities
(202) 662-8542

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