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The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) released the 57th Annual Survey of Paper, Paperboard and Pulp Capacity, reporting that U.S. paper and paperboard capacity declined 1.3 percent in 2016, in line with the long term decline rate of 1.3 percent per year since 2001.

Containerboard capacity continued to expand during recent years, increasing 1.4 percent in 2016 to a record 38.2 million tons. Containerboard accounted for 45 percent of U.S. paper and paperboard capacity in 2016, up from 36 percent in 2000. Tissue paper capacity has also been trending upward, expanding 0.7 percent in 2016 to 8.7 million tons.

Reflecting displacement from digital communications, capacity for newsprint and printing-writing papers continued to decline in 2016. Some of the capacity reductions in printing-writing papers are due to conversion of machines to produce fluff pulp and other paper products.

Survey responses indicate total paper and paperboard capacity will decrease 0.4 percent in 2017.

The annual survey reports U.S. industry capacity data for 2016 and 2017 for all major grades of paper, paperboard and pulp, as well as fiber consumption, based on a comprehensive survey of all U.S. pulp and paper mills. Survey data includes responses from companies representing more than 88 percent of U.S. paper and paperboard industry capacity, with estimates completing the data set.

Published in the June 2017 Edition of American Recycler News