The U.S. recovery rate of old corrugated containers (OCC) rose by 3.7 percentage points in 2015 to a record-high 92.9%. The increase was driven by a 3.5% increase in domestic consumption of recovered fiber and a 10.6% jump in OCC exports.
As reported by the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), OCC recovery has been climbing steadily since the 1990s. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, notes OCC recovery to be higher than any other in the municipal waste stream.
How is recovered/recycled corrugated used?
More than 51% of OCC recovered in 2015 was used to make new containerboard for more corrugated boxes, which, on average, include approximately 50% recycled content. An additional 11.5% was used to make boxboard (for primary packaging like cereal boxes), and more than 32% was exported. Global demand for OCC has grown steadily as well, helping ensure a viable market for U.S. recovered fiber.
The recovery rate of corrugated has been augmented by the industry’s unflagging commitment to educating retailers, packagers and consumers on the simplicity and benefits of recycling corrugated materials. In 1994, the “Corrugated Recycles” symbol was introduced in the U.S.; the International Corrugated Case Association adopted it three years later. Today, the symbol is present on a majority of corrugated packaging.