The U.S. paper recovery rate edged up slightly in 2014, according to data from an industry group.
According to the annual tally from the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), the U.S. paper recovery rate grew to 65.4 percent in 2014. That’s 1.9 percentage points above 2013’s rate of 63.5.
The paper industry has a goal of reaching 70 percent by 2020.
“AF&PA is continuously working toward recovering more than 70 percent of paper consumed in the U.S. by 2020 by building on the same effective and efficient voluntary, market-based programs that have succeeded to date,” Brian Hawkinson, AF&PA’s executive director of recovered fiber, told Resource Recycling.
Hawkinson singled out “paperboard and corrugated packaging from homes and printing-writing papers from offices and schools” as potential sources of more recoverable material. He also noted the recovery amount includes “all recovered paper and paperboard except mill broke.”
Mill broke is paper waste generated before the completion of the papermaking process. Excess paper waste created once the process is completed is counted in the AF&PA recovery data.
The industry’s mission to achieve higher recovery rates comes as the amount of paper generated each year continues to fall. In 2014, 78.21 million tons of paper were generated, below 2013’s total of 78.95 million tons and more than 27 million tons off of the 1999 high of 105.32 million tons.
A major factor in the decline, AF&PA numbers show, is falling use of newsprint. As more and more print periodicals and newspapers have gone digital, newsprint generation has gone from a high of 11.12 million tons in 2006 to a low of 5.44 million tons in 2014. The newsprint recovery rate was 68.9 percent last year.