AF&PA: US paper recovery rate drops to 65.8% in 2017
- The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) announced earlier this month the U.S. paper recovery rate reached 65.8% in 2017, a drop from 67.2% in 2016.
- "Paper is one of the most successfully recovered and recycled commodities in the U.S. because of our strong, market-driven voluntary system," said AF&PA Board Chairman John Rooney in a statement. "Our industry will continue to support and implement education programs and initiatives that drive awareness and increase access to paper recycling."
- AF&PA has a goal to exceed 70% paper recovery for recycling by 2020 as part of its broader Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 initiative.
While the association has a target of 70% recovery by 2020, the slight dip in recovery rates from 2016 to 2017 indicates that more needs to be done to attain goal. The dip could also be attributed to China's import restrictions, which have banned mixed paper and turned the overall domestic market on its head. In December 2017, AF&PA advocated for "free and fair recovered fiber trade policies with China," but these efforts were unsuccessful.
The ongoing shift in consumer behavior away from newspapers and other printed materials toward more electronic mediums is an underlying issue for recovery efforts. To attain its 2020 goal, AF&PA will likely continue its consumer-reaching educational efforts. In 2017, the association relaunched a recycling education website to boost engagement among students, with a goal of reaching 150,000 fifth grade students that year.
AF&PA has also been involved in promoting the value of paper products manufacturing for the economy, most recently advocating for public policy in Massachusetts through meetings with state legislators. AF&PA CEO Donna Harman said in a statement that legislation that "supports effective recovery of paper and paper-based packaging" will allow Massachusetts and other states to grow local economies and create more jobs.
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