AF&PA Says Recycling Deserves Stimulus Funding

March 18, 2009 - Today the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) called on U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to help support America’s recycling efforts with funds from the Department of Energy’s share of the recent stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Even with recent record high paper recovery rates, the economic downturn poses challenges to America’s ongoing recycling success. Stimulus funds set aside by Congress to encourage sustainable practices can help America keep from losing the progress it has made in paper recycling over the past two decades, AF&PA said.

“In the wake of our economic downturn, overall paper demand has declined and taken the value of recovered fiber down with it,” wrote AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman in a letter to Secretary Chu. “Every effort must be made to preserve the consumer behaviors and recycling infrastructure that have made our current [recycling] success possible.”

By dedicating for recycling a portion of the $3.2 billion for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants funded in the stimulus bill, the Department of Energy can support:

  • Community efforts to use more energy efficient equipment for collecting and processing recyclables;
  • Upgrades to recycling infrastructure such as new or refurbished trucks, collection bins, and equipment at recovery processing facilities;
  • Private sector efforts to work with communities to set and meet recycling goals.

Global demand for recovered paper was strong in the first three quarters of 2008 but the economic downturn resulted in a sharp decline at the end of the year that continues today. The long-term effect on recycling will depend on the speed with which the market rebounds.

AF&PA will release details of the 2008 paper recovery rate next week during “Sustaining the Industry: Paper Week 2009,” its annual issues forum for paper makers, customers, and industry watchers.

Thanks to industry leadership and efforts by millions of Americans to recycle, paper recovery has reached record levels:

  • Since 1990, when the paper industry established its first recovery goal to advance recycling in the U.S., paper recovery has grown by more than 85 percent.
  • In 2007, 56 percent of the paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling – with each percentage point increase representing nearly one million additional tons of recovered paper, enough to fill more than 14,000 railroad cars.

A copy of Harman’s letter to Secretary Chu can be viewed here here.

SOURCE: American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA)

PaperAge. Copyright © O'Brien Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.