High paper recycling rates important to AF&PA
American exports of recycled paper remain strong
and initiatives to meet that demand are being developed and discussed.
The nation uses an enormous amount of paper annually and more than
50 percent is recovered through recycling programs.
Cathy Foley, vice president of the American Forest & Paper
Association’s (AF&PA) Paper Sector, is keen to see recycling
rates remain strong and devotes a good percentage of her time and
effort promoting recycling.
Question: A record collection rate for paper recycling
was achieved in 2006 in the United States. Will this be repeated
in 2007 or are you expecting an even higher rate?
Answer: Data from the annual
AF&PA Capacity Report is used to determine the recovery rate,
and will be available in late March. All indicators suggest that
paper recovery rates remain at their highest levels to date.
Question: What are the challenges concerning the collection
of paper products and what is being done to maximize collection?
Answer: According to the latest
AF&PA Community Survey (conducted in 2004), 86 percent of the
population has access to curbside or drop-off paper and paperboard
recycling programs. That survey is currently being updated, and
results will be available in late spring.
This widespread availability of paper recycling
programs has certainly helped us achieve record high recovery rates
nationwide. In order to continue to increase recovery, AF&PA works in partnership
with organizations including the United States Environmental Protection
Agency and Keep America Beautiful to educate targeted audiences
about the need for increased recovery. We also highlight successful
school, college/university, business, and community recycling programs
through the AF&PA Recycling Awards.
Question: Are government, commercial
and institutional offices doing their part to maximize paper recycling
and if not, what more should they be doing?
Answer: In 2006, 49 percent of
printing-writing papers were recovered for recycling, indicating
an opportunity for us to do more in this area. There are often
challenges around office recycling, including multi-tenant buildings,
different haulers for different buildings in the same area, and
education about what can and cannot be recycled.
AF&PA is working with our partner organizations to support
pilot office recycling programs that can be replicated around the
Question: Would you endorse an up-front fee on the
purchase of paper products to ensure that funding is available
to finance paper recycling programs and in particular, education
programs geared towards adults and children?
Answer: Paper recycling is a
true success story in that it is a voluntary action that millions
of Americans take part in daily. Further, while once a small effort
that was undertaken simply because of the environmental benefits,
paper recycling has now become a significant and global industry.
AF&PA has long advocated that markets should be the driver
behind paper recovery and recycling.
Question: How much paper is lost due to contamination
at the curbside and commercial recycling stage and how can this
be avoided? Are serious attempts being made by solid waste agencies
to reduce this contamination?
Answer: AF&PA does not have
data on levels of contamination at various recycling outlets. Communication
and education about the expectations for fiber being collected
for recovery and reports on what is actually being collected can
be extremely useful in continuing efforts to maintain high quality.