Does Recycling Paper Help?: 5 Paper Recycling Statistics

Imagine if Oprah was a hardcore environmental activist.  “You use a lot of paper!  And you use a lot of paper!  WE ALL USE A LOT OF PAPER!”  Although Oprah’s exclamations would be true, Americans have actually gotten a lot better about recycling most of the paper we use.  Over the past decade, recovery rates in the United States have been increasing thanks to paper recycling efforts nationwide.  This is a great sign, especially considering that paper and paperboard products make up the largest percentage of solid waste in U.S. landfills.  Ideally, we need to reduce and reuse the amount of paper we use, but the next best step is to recycle it.  So let’s keep filling up those blue bins with paper and other recyclables, because recycling paper makes a big difference!

Recycling Statistics

There’s been an impressive trend towards higher paper recycling rates over the past decade, as show in this graph from The AF&PA has set a goal of a 70% paper recovery rate by the year 2020.

5 Recycling Statistics: Paper

  • Recycling paper not only saves trees and landfill space, but also cuts down on water, electricity, and other resources needed during original production.
  • According to the EPA, in the United States, paper accounted for 28% of total municipal solid waste generation (out of 250 million tons) in 2011.
  • In 2011, paper had a recycling rate of 66% in the US.
  • But in 2012, the percent recovered dropped slightly to 65.1%, but was still the second highest recovery percentage on record.
  • According to the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), recycling also reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) since reusing paper doesn’t require the same production process as that of producing paper from virgin wood fiber.
About Michael Ponte

Michael is an awesome intern at PrintEco and is the blog manager. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and loves gettin' fit and is probably too good at fantasy sports leagues. One of Michael's current contributions to the environment is demanding encouraging others to do things right. Find Michael on


  1. Michael

    Here is an interesting book you may enjoy reading.

    At you can learn about how recycling will save you money. It also talks about how much could be saved from landfills each year by recycling.

    Feel free to send it to anyone you would like.

    Good luck


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