Increasing Paper Collection for Recycling… Clearing up the Confusion

The 100% recycled paperboard industry needs all of the clean, recycled paper it can get and that means we need Americans to recycle more paper at home and at work. This supply issue is at the heart of our industry’s survival.

U.S. manufacturers are competing in global markets for recycled paper supplies, with much of the paper collected in the U.S. for recycling being exported to Asia. Although some 50 million tons of paper is recovered in the U.S. for recycling each year, over 30% of it is exported to other countries. Global demand for recovered paper is growing at the rate of six million tons per year. We simply cannot meet both domestic and global demand for recovered paper, unless we increase the amount of paper we are collecting for recycling.

Increasing paper recycling also helps fight global warming. We have a substantial opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. simply by increasing paper recycling and the demand for products made from 100% recycled paperboard.

We need the cooperation of all levels of government, private sector recycling companies, and the American public to ensure that we have enough usable recovered paper for our mills to operate efficiently and cost-effectively.

What can be recycled?

Sometimes there is confusion on what materials are recyclable. Almost all paper based products can be recycled. It is important that the material is clean and not contaminated with non paper materials, like food and metals. Ink and plastic can be removed in the recycled paper making process and paper with these materials is recyclable and welcome.

Paper products including newspaper, magazines, gift wrap and office papers are some of the paper products that can be recycled. Paperboard cartons including cereal, snacks, pizza and soft drink boxes, yogurt wraps and beer containers can be recycled. Virtually all refrigerated and frozen products boxes and paper wraps can be recycled. In addition, corrugated containers are recyclable whether they are brown boxes or the highly decorated containers.

What if my curbside recycler refuses certain materials?

Recycling paper is an environmentally responsible step that we can all take. Some curbside recyclers are operating under out-dated notions on what materials are accepted. The Paper Recycling Coalition will continue to educate all stakeholders so that our vision of recovering all available paper that is recyclable. Consumers can play an active role by questioning curbside recyclers on materials that they won’t accept. These recyclers can also be referred to us.