The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) has done a nice job of consumer outreach with PaperRecycles.org, a new web site that aims at better educating the public about recovering paper and paper-based packaging for recycling.
It’s the latest in a series of steps by AF&PA toward the goal of exceeding a 70% rate of paper recovery for recycling by 2020. The number certainly appears to be within reach. In 2013, the association says, 63.5% of all paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling, nearly doubling the nation’s rate of paper recovery since 1990.
The web site will try to help consumers go the remaining distance with an instructional video and a menu of tips for increasing the both the quantity and the quality of the paper and packaging materials they send to recycling. “Quality” means making sure that recoverable items are ready for the recycling stream by emptying them and removing any non-paper components they may have (such as the plastic inner bags in cereal boxes).
PaperRecycles.org also offers statistical insights into progress being made along various sectors of the recycling front. Under the heading of package recovery, the site mentions U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data indicating that paper and paperboard packaging accounts for more than 74% percent of all packaging materials recovered for recycling in the U.S. Also noted is the fact that the recovery rate of old corrugated containerboard by U.S. mills stood at 88.5% in 2013—down from an all-time high of 91% in 2012.
Of more direct interest to consumers are guidelines for organizing recycling programs in schools, workplaces, and communities. The site encourages activism by pointing visitors to information about recycling awards programs they may wish to take part in. (An interesting one is Recyclemania, a recycling competition for colleges and universities.)
The popular content at PaperRecycles.org complements the professional resources available at the AF&PA web site, a clearing-house of information about business, environmental, and legal/regulatory issues for the paper manufacturing and paper using industries. Both links deserve to be bookmarked and shared.