NORTH AMERICA IS A LEADING PAPER RECYCLER AND, AS LOCAL COLLECTION SYSTEMS IMPROVE, RECYCLING RATES WILL INCREASE EVEN FURTHER.
The forest products industry has unique aspects that are consistent with principles of the Circular Economy. The industry is based on renewable resources and its products are recyclable.
National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, 2018
•In 2019, U.S. paper recovery rate for recycling was 66.2%.1 Corrugated boxes had a recovery rate of 92%.1 In contrast, recycling rates for plastics, glass and metals were 9%, 26% and 34%, respectively.2
•In Canada, 70% of paper and cardboard are recycled, making Canada among the top paper recycling countries in the world. The national recovery rate for old corrugated boxes in Canada is estimated at 85%.3
• Overall paper recycling numbers are approaching the practical theoretical maximum recycling rate of 78%.5 Some paper products cannot be recovered for recycling because they are kept for long periods of time (books) or archived (records); others are destroyed or contaminated when used (e.g. tissue and hygienic paper). The continuation of the paper production cycle therefore requires constant replenishment with new fiber from sustainably managed forests.
• In a circular economy scheme, the product’s end of life is reconnected with its production by reusing the already extracted resources, which are contained in used products. This circular economy scheme is particularly suitable for the pulp and paper sector, thanks to the possibility of producing paper and packaging from used paper products.6
• The paper and wood products industry’s efforts to promote sustainable forest management, to do more with less in the manufacturing process and to recover products for recycling form the foundation of our contributions to the circular economy.7
1 American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), 2020
2 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 2017
3 Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), 2015
4 Paper Packaging Canada, 2018
5 European Paper Recycling Council, 2017
6 World Economic Forum, Design and Management for Circularity, 2016
7 AF&PA, 2019