DeAnne Toto


Redefining an industry

Paper Recycling Supplement

December 3, 2014

DeAnne Toto

Recycling Today Media Group recently concluded our Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference, which took place in Chicago Oct. 8-10. Many of the conference sessions dedicated to paper recycling addressed the changing nature of the industry, one that is in the process of redefining itself.

An excellent example of that is old corrugated containers (OCC). OCC has been the bellwether grade for the industry in terms of forecasting the health of the larger economy. Recently, generation of OCC has surpassed that of ONP (old newspapers). According to figures presented by Myles Cohen during the session “Redefining the PSI Definition and Specification for OCC,” 66 percent of the fiber recovered for recycling in the United States in 2013 was OCC, while all other grades combined comprised the remaining 34 percent. ONP accounted for only 10 percent of the fiber recovered for recycling in 2013. Cohen told attendees of the session, “If anyone would have told the people in this room 10 years ago that ONP was going to be one-eighth the size of OCC, we would have thought they were nuts.”

Cohen said OCC is the “lifeblood of this industry,” however it suffers from having a poorly defined specification that no longer reflects how the material is bought and sold today.

Beginning on page S16 in the feature “Redefining OCC” you can read Cohen’s thoughts on why it’s time to reconsider the specification for OCC, making adjustments that more accurately reflect how the grade is traded today.

Declining ONP generation also means that a number of material recovery facilities (MRFs) have had to retool their operations in response to the changing composition of incoming recyclables and to the growth of single-stream collection. While we could not cover that topic in this supplement, you can read more about it at

Speakers at the 2014 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference shared their views on the many ways the paper recycling and manufacturing industries are changing. For video highlights from the conference, visit the Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference Recap at, sponsored by Bellevue, Ohio-based American Baler. You also can view interviews with various speakers at conference-interviews.aspx.

Help us set the agenda for next year’s conference, which will be Oct. 14-16, 2015, in Chicago, by emailing or tweeting us your paper recycling topic suggestions for next year’s event. Emails can be sent to conference programming organizer Dan Sandoval at Please use #P&PRC2015 to offer us your suggestions over Twitter. We look forward to hearing from you.


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