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Environmental Protection & Preservation

Paper Industry Announces All-Time High of 53 Percent Paper Recovery

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) today announced that a record 53,4 percent of the paper consumed in the US (53,5 million tons) was recovered for recycling in 2006. This is the second year in a row that the paper recovery rate has increased.

The 53.5 million tons represent an increase in recovery of 83.7 percent since 1990, when the paper industry undertook its first serious commitment to advance recycling in the United States. Currently, Americans recover nearly 360 pounds of paper for every person in the United States, up from 233 pounds per person in 1990.

This impressive accomplishment was made possible by the efforts of AF&PA member companies and the millions of Americans who recycle at home, work, and school every day, including the fact that 86 percent of the U.S. population, or about 258 million people, have access to curbside or drop-off recycling programs, according to a 2005 AF&PA Community Survey.

In order to keep up with global demand for recovered fiber, the industry has set a goal of 55 percent recovery by 2012. "These results show that we are closing in on our 55 percent paper recovery goal at a much faster rate than we anticipated," said AF&PA President & CEO Juanita D. Duggan. "We're encouraged by both the quantity and quality of paper being recovered, but we still have an opportunity to bump this number even higher by increasing recovery of high quality paper found in offices and schools."

AF&PA continues to raise awareness of the need for increased recovery through partnership programs, youth outreach, and a variety of resources and materials available on In addition to a searchable database of historical information regarding recovery by paper grade, the Web site also contains recycling guides for schools, communities and businesses; background and facts and figures on paper and paper recycling; and video and interactive features.

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