Paper Recycling Hits Record High

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If measured by weight, more paper is recovered for recycling than all glass, plastic and aluminum combined. Photo: Flickr/orphanjones

A record-high 63.4 percent of the paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling in 2009, according PaperRecycles.org, which is funded by the American Forest & Paper Association.

The all-time high exceeds the industry’s 60 percent recovery goal three years ahead of schedule.

“Recycling is one of America’s great environmental success stories, and the paper industry is proud of our ongoing leadership role in this arena,” said AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman.

“[This] announcement is a testament to the work of the industry and the commitment of millions of Americans who recycle at home, school and work on a daily basis.”

In 2009 the amount of paper recovered for recycling averaged 325 pounds for each man, woman and child in the United States.

About 50 million tons of paper and paperboard were recovered last year, down slightly from the year before, after plateauing at about 52 million tons in 2007, reports Environmental Leader.

According to the U.S. EPA, approximately 33 percent of the municipal solid waste stream is made up of paper and paperboard products.

Paper makes up the largest portion of the municipal waste stream and is also one of the most highly recovered materials as 87 percent (268 million) of Americans have access to curbside or drop-off paper recycling programs.

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