For millions of Americans, the act of chipping in and doing their part to recycle is a reward in and of itself. But sometimes, it’s nice to have a little extra recognition. This is just what the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), the national trade association of the forest, paper and wood products industry, is doing through their 2009 Recycling Awards competition.
Started in 2005, the AF&PA Recycling Awards have offered the industry an opportunity to recognize outstanding paper recycling programs throughout the country. The annual awards recognize programs engaged in promoting recycling in four categories:
The AF&PA Recycling Awards are part of the industry’s efforts to increase paper recovery nationwide to 60 percent by 2012. In 2007, a record high of 56 percent of all paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered, representing an estimated 54.3 million tons or 360 pounds of paper for each person living in the country.
“We understand that recent successes in paper recovery at the national level are a combination of industry leadership and the efforts of the millions of Americans who recycle at home, work and school every day,” said Gretchen Spear, manager of recovered fiber for AF&PA.
What’s In It For The Winners?
2009 AF&PA Recycling Award winners will be announced in March and flown to the annual AF&PA Paper Week conference in New York City, where they will be awarded a cash prize of $2,000 and a framed original artwork piece. Winners will be featured in local and national media, as well as on AF&PA’s paper recycling website.
“Providing details about the winners’ stories on paperrecyles.org not only promotes the winning programs, but also offers case studies and lessons learned for those interested in starting a new [recycling] program,” said Spear. “As has been the case in the past, we are receiving strong entries from around the country and don’t envy the job of our panel charged with choosing the winners.”
Notable Past Winners
- Harvard University – This Ivy League university was awarded the division prize in 2007. Considered the largest urban campus recycling program in the northeastern U.S., Harvard University students, faculty, staff and contractors diverted more than 2,600 tons of paper for recycling in a one-year period. Their successful program has saved the Faculty of Arts and Sciences more than $120,000 in the past five years and the Harvard Dining Services more than $200,000 in the past eight years.
- City of Seattle – Winning the Community Recycling Award in 2006, the City of Seattle has proven itself a model community in the recycling world. In 2005, Seattle’s residential recycling program saved $4.4 million by collecting and selling over 160 million pounds of recyclables. Seattle’s overall garbage tonnage was the lowest in 10 years, despite population growth.
- Georgia Institute of Technology – In 1995, four undergraduate civil and environmental engineering students analyzed the solid waste and recycling processes at the university. Their study led to the creation of Georgia Tech’s Office of Solid Waste and Recycling in 1996 and a more than decade-long successful recycling program began as a result.
‘Maintaining the Recycling Infrastructure’
AF&PA stresses the importance of continued recycling efforts in today’s uncertain economy. “In our current economic downturn, where recovered fiber markets have been hit hard, maintaining the recycling infrastructure is critical and especially deserving of recognition,” said Spear. “Such efforts will help us increase recovery when the economy rebounds.”
Paper recovery has grown by more than 85 percent since 1990, the year the paper industry established its first recovery and recycling goal. The industry hopes that paper recovery rates will increase in 2009, despite a 2008 decrease in demand for raw materials. These awards will recognize and reward those continuing their successful recycling efforts during these times.
Entries for the 2009 AF&PA Recycling Awards must be received by Feb. 4, 2009. AF&PA encourages any eligible program making a difference through their paper and other material recycling efforts to apply.