Marking its third consecutive annual increase, the U.S. paper recovery rate rose to an all-time high of 67.2 percent in 2016 – up from 66.8 percent in 2015.
Consumption of recovered paper at U.S. paper and paperboard mills held generally stable at 30.8 million tons in 2016 – down just 0.1 percent compared with the 2015 level – while exports rose 1.3 percent to 21.8 million tons. There are also some domestic uses of recovered paper outside the paper industry, including as base materials for insulation and molded pulp products.
The paper recovery rate measured 33.5 percent back in 1990, which was the base year against which the American Forest & Paper Association began setting its recovery goals.
AF&PA member companies have set a goal to increase the U.S. paper recovery rate to more than 70 percent by 2020. The 2016 numbers represent continued progress towards meeting the goal.