Fast Stats on Recycled Paper

Need the Data? 100% Recycled Paper Facts and Figures

On Recovered Paper…

  • More than half (66.8 percent) of all the paper used by Americans in 2015 was recovered to be recycled.
  • For every person in the United States, an average of 360 pounds of paper was recovered for recycling in 2007, an increase from 233 pounds per person in 1990.2
  • Recovered paper accounted for 36.9 percent of all fiber consumed by the U.S. paper industry in 2006.3
  • Recovered paper and paperboard mills accounted for use of 34 million tons of recovered fiber in 2007.4
  • Recycled paperboard capacity was at 5.9 million tons in 2004.5

On Paperboard…

  • There are more than 80 coated and uncoated recycled paperboard mills in North America.
  • Recycled paperboard is used in folding cartons, set-up boxes, cores and tubes, cylindrical containers, carded packaging and various other products.6
  • One hundred percent recycled paperboard has been in use for over 125 years.
  • Recycled paperboard grades account for just more than half of global coated tonnage.7
  • In North America, about half of coated paperboard is bleached, while the remainder is split between recycled paperboard and coated unbleached kraft (CUK).8
  • Comparative price trend charts for virgin kraft and recycled paperboard show that over the last twenty years, recycled paperboard has been less expensive on a ton per ton basis.

On Consumer Environmental Preferences…

  • The vast majority of consumers (89 percent) think it’s important that companies do something good for the environment and 77 percent feel better about a company that uses 100% recycled paperboard in its product packaging.9
  • More than half of consumers (61 percent) are “more inclined” to purchase products from a company that uses 100% recycled paperboard packaging.10
  • More than three-quarters of consumers (80 percent) feel they are “doing something good for the environment” when they buy products packaged in 100% recycled paperboard packaging.11

On Packager Preferences…

  • Just more than half (55 percent) of packaging, technical and purchasing professionals with major U.S. packaged goods companies rate 100% recycled paperboard as having superior value, especially in the categories of dry and refrigerated/frozen foods. 12
  • More than a third of heavy users of 100% recycled paperboard see it as superior to other types of packaging in terms of consumer preference and shelf impact. 13
  • The top four critical drivers of overall satisfaction when choosing and using 100% recycled paperboard include: value, carton run-ability, overall paperboard quality and overall carton performance. 14

1-4 American Forest & Paper Association’s (AF&PA) Recovered Paper Statistics, located at

5 American Forest & Paper Association’s (AF&PA) 45th Annual Survey of Paper, Paperboard and Pulp Capacity

6 Paperboard Packaging Council’s (PPC) Paperboard Packaging: The Natural Choice for You and the Environment

7-8 “Paper Coatings Evolve” by Mark Cranck, Feb. 2002, Pulp & Paper Magazine

9-11 Leflein Associates national mall intercept survey on behalf of the 100% Recycled Paperboard Alliance, March 2000

12-14 Priority Metrics Group survey of U.S. packaged goods companies on behalf of the 100% Recycled Paperboard Alliance, October 2002