Paper recycling in U.S. at record high

According to the American Forest & Paper Association, the paper recovery rate in the U.S. reached a record high of 67.2% in 2016! That’s more than double the rate first measured back in 1990.

U.S. paper mills used 30.8 million tons of recovered paper, and exported a net 21.8 million tons of recovered paper. Recycling that much paper saved 177 million cubic yards of landfill space, or enough to fill the Empire State Building 129 times!

So where does all of that paper go? Nearly 80% of U.S. paper makers use some recovered paper to make products, such as office paper, newsprint, tissue products, and paperboard. Recovered paper is also feedstock for insulation and molded pulp products, such as egg cartons and packaging materials.

Recycling paper not only saves landfill space, but it also saves trees, conserves energy, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, as well:

Trees: Approximately 1.2 trees are used to produce just 2 cartons (20 reams) of 100% virgin copier paper. The more recycled paper we use in making paper, the fewer trees we have to harvest and use.
Energy: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that every ton of mixed paper recycled can save the energy equivalent of 166 gallons of gasoline. That means in 2016 we saved the energy equivalent of over 8.7 billion gallons of gasoline just by recycling paper!
Emissions: Recycling paper and paperboard at the current volume is equivalent to taking 31 million cars off the road each year — about the number of cars and light trucks registered in the State of California!

Even though the recycling rate of paper is higher than ever, more than 30% of our waste paper is still being disposed instead of recycled. In 2016, 20.9 million tons of recyclable paper were landfilled. That’s about 129 pounds for every person in America annually. We can do better! Make sure all of your paper goes in the recycling bin!

Photo credit:  RichVintage | E+ | Getty Images Plus

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