US Paper Recovery Rate Grew Slightly in 2008

April 6, 2009 - The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) announced that the U.S. paper recovery rate grew in 2008 from 56 to 57.4 percent last year, but cautioned that the economic downturn caused a sharp decline in paper demand beginning in the fourth quarter of 2008. The long-term effect of the slowdown on recovery rates and recycling will depend on the speed with which the economy rebounds.

AF&PA credited the growth in the 2008 recovery rate to strong global demand for recovered fiber in the first three quarters of 2008, along with a sound recycling infrastructure and the ongoing commitment of millions of Americans.

“Recycling is one of America’s great environmental success stories and the paper industry is proud to have played a central role in the significant growth in paper recovery in recent years. It’s important that in the wake of the global recession, the resulting decline in paper demand, and the decline in value of recovered paper, that we protect both our infrastructure and personal commitment to recycling so that we are prepared to again meet growing demand as the market rebounds,” said AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman.

Harman pointed to the 2009 AF&PA Recycling Award winners as successful and innovative paper recycling programs in school, university, business, and community categories:

  • AF&PA Business Leadership Recycling Award – Giant Eagle, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA.
    Giant Eagle, Inc. has established a comprehensive paper recycling program throughout its headquarter buildings and corporately owned supermarkets, fuel stations, and retail support centers. In 2008 Giant Eagle collected nearly 555 tons of mixed office paper and more than 42,000 tons of old corrugated containers for recycling.
  • AF&PA Community Recycling Award – Orange County, NC.
    In 2008, the 128,000 residents of Orange County, North Carolina recovered approximately 8,750 tons of paper for recycling. This success was the result of education and outreach combined with accessibility for residents. The county recycling program includes weekly curbside collection in urban areas, biweekly curbside for rural locations, multi-family units, drop-off sites, and government buildings, plus collection from “park and ride” locations and city buses.
  • AF&PA School Recycling Award – Wake County Public School System, Wake County, NC.
    The Department of Environmental Services of Wake County, North Carolina’s FEED THE BIN paper recycling program serves more than 135,000 students in 152 schools. The program provides recycling bins for each classroom and office space and roll carts for the schools. An impressive 800 tons of paper were collected during the 2007-2008 school year.
  • AF&PA College/University Recycling Award – Stanford University, Stanford, CA.
    With a student population of more than 17,350, the campus community recovered nearly 3,000 tons of paper for recycling and diverted 64 percent of its waste from the landfill in 2008. Stanford avoided paying landfill fees of $133,000 and received approximately $450,000 in revenue from its recyclables.

“In these tough economic times it is more important than ever to highlight the recycling programs that are making a difference. AF&PA appreciates the on-going dedication of Americans who recycle every day, and we congratulate the award winners for their achievements. They are inspiration to us all,” said Harman.

For additional information on the 2009 AF&PA Recycling Award winners, the 2008 recovery rate, and background information, interactive features, and resources related to paper recycling, visit www.paperrecycles.org.

(000 tons)
(000 tons)
Recovery Rate
199391,53835,460 38.7%
199495,71839,691 41.5%
199595,97142,189 44.0%
199694,52943,076 45.6%
199799,55743,989 44.2%
1998101,18345,076 44.6%
1999105,31646,818 44.5%
2000102,81047,311 46.0%
200197,39546,996 48.3%
200298,94947,645 48.2%
2003 98,018 49,255 50.3%
2004 101,884 50,187 49.3%
200599,613 51,272 51.5%
2006100,665 53,314 53.0%
200797,007 54,325 56.0%
200890,190 51,822 57.4%


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