More than 63 percent of paper consumed in the US has been recovered for recycling for each of the past five years, making paper the most recycled material in the nation, according to the American Forest & Paper Association’s 2014 Sustainability Report.
The report measures the US pulp, paper, packaging and wood products industry’s progress toward achieving its Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability goals, which focus on increasing paper recovery for recycling, improving energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting sustainable forestry practices, improving worker safety, and reducing water use.
While recovered paper consumption at US paper and paperboard mills increased by 230,000 tons in 2013, the overall paper recycling rate slipped from 65.1 percent in 2012 to 63.5 percent in 2013. AF&PA attributes the decline to a 6.3 percent reduction in US exports of recovered paper due to economic weakness in certain key customer markets.
Other 2014 Sustainability Report highlights include:
- Members have nearly reached the Better Practices goal to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent — reducing GHGs by 14.5 percent — compared to 2005 levels.
- Improved energy efficiency led to a reduction in purchased energy of 8.8 percent. On average, about two-thirds of members’ energy needed for forest products production comes from the use of carbon-neutral biomass
- Water use at member pulp and paper mills was reduced by 6 percent; the industry has set a goal to reduce water use in members’ pulp and paper mills by 12 percent from 2005 to 2020.