Paper recycling had a solid year in 2022 according to recently released data from The American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA). Recycling rates and recycling tonnages for cardboard and paper point to an upward trend in this recycled material due to its sustainability and environmental impact.

“Paper and cardboard continue to be some of the most-recycled material in the U.S.,” said AF&PA President and CEO Heidi Brock. “Paper recycling is also one of the best examples of how we, as a society, are working to respect our environment and contribute to a circular economy.”


According to the data, the paper recycling rate of all papers consumed in the U.S. eased 0.1 percentage point to 67.9% in 2022, just below the twenty-year high rate of 68.0% achieved in 2021 and 2018. 49.1 million tons were recycled in 2022, going back to near 2017 levels.


In 2022, the cardboard recycling rate increased 2.2 percentage points to 93.6% — 4.8 percentage points above two years ago. Total tonnage recycled came to 34.0 million tons. For comparison, the 20-year high was in 2018 where the cardboard recycling rate was 96.2%, with a total of 34.6 million tons recycled.

AF&PA attributes its success to improving paper recycling and advancing the circular economy through:

Arnulfo Moreno

Arnulfo Moreno

Arnulfo Moreno is a Communications Manager at ReMA. He is fascinated by the innovation and sustainability found in the recycling industry. He graduated from The Catholic University of America where he majored in Media Studies and minored in Spanish. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with his collection of short stories he hopes to one day finish writing.