Protecting the U.S. Recovered Fiber Supply


How do we Protect the U.S. Fiber Supply and Grow U.S. Jobs?



Eliminate economic incentives to burn paper for energy recovery.


Using financial incentives, which can take many forms, to subsidize energy projects, which use recovered paper as a feedstock is flawed policy in terms of the deficit, environmental economics, resource conservation and maintaining a competitive free market economy.




  • The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) definition of solid waste includes not just ‘garbage’ but also–all recyclable materials as “waste.”


  • When ‘waste’ or ‘garbage’ are included in any program to incentivize production of renewable energy, it has the unintended consequence that recyclable paper is likely to be included in that program to burn “renewables” unless specifically excluded in legislation or Report Language.


  • EPA data shows that almost five million tons of paper are currently being burned in waste-to-energy facilities. Far more jobs would be created if these 5 million tons were being recycled back into paper rather than “going up in smoke”. Paper can be burned once or be recycled up to seven (7) times!


  • In light of current historically high and growing demands for valuable fiber in the domestic and foreign marketplaces, this is clearly a misuse of fiber.


  • Congress and the Administration established clear intent to protect the fiber supply from government manipulation when on January 2, 2013, they amended the Section 45 Energy Production Tax Credits, by specifically excluding “paper which is commonly recycled and segregated” from the definition of solid waste in that provision of law.


Biomass, according to the Congressional Research Service is defined as: “…organic matter that can be converted into energy.  Common examples of biomass include food crops, crops for energy (e.g. switchgrass or prairie perennials), crop residues, wood waste and byproducts, and animal manure.  Over the past few years, the concept of biomass has grown to include such diverse sources as algae, construction debris, municipal solid waste, yard waste, and food waste.”[1]

Congress and state legislatures have and will continue to create incentives for the use of biomass as an energy source.

The problem for paper recycling arises when municipal solid waste (MSW) is defined as a biomass because recyclable materials are included in the definition of MSW in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  Burning recyclable paper for energy goes against every environmental principal currently in American law and practice.

[1]               Congressional Research Service .Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation. May 18, 2010 R40529, p 1