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Why Paper Recycling Is a Success

Sustainable business-sustainable future-paper recycling
Sustainable business-sustainable future-paper recycling

What makes paper recycling a success? American Forest & Paper Association’s Heidi Brock explains.

Investing in and improving paper recycling has been among our industry goals for decades. We first set goals to improve paper recycling in the 1990s. The recycling rate has more than doubled since then.

More than 50 million tons of paper was recovered for recycling in 2021. That’s more than enough to fill rail cars from New York to Los Angeles and back.

Now, we’ve set an ambitious new goal to advance a circular value chain, including to increase the amount of recycled fiber in our products. This is part of our comprehensive sustainability goals, Better Practices, Better Planet 2030: Sustainable Products for a Sustainable Future.

Investing in Recycling Our industry

Our industry has planned or announced approximately $5 billion in investments (from 2019-2024) to continue the best use of recycled fiber in our products. Those investments will enable paper mills to use approximately 8 million tons more recovered paper in manufacturing.

Investments go beyond our mills. We work with stakeholders on paper recycling education, and with materials recovery facilities and recycling haulers to set the record straight. For instance, we’re spreading the word that pizza boxes are recyclable. Leftover grease and cheese aren’t an issue.

You Can Help!

If you want to help our recycling mission, you can:

•Check local guidelines to see what’s accepted in your area.
•Avoid “wishcycling.” When you put something in the bin hoping it will be recycled, it may harm the recycling process.
•Keep paper products dry and clean and place them in the recycling bin.
•If your municipality doesn’t accept pizza boxes, ask them to start.

Learn more about paper recycling and our sustainability goals at

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