cardboard box recycling
Containerboard mills in the U.S. operated at an average rate of 95.6 percent in the third quarter of this year.
Photo by Recycling Today staff.

US board mills running at healthy clip

Containerboard and boxboard production were up in the third quarter of 2021 compared with the prior year.

October 19, 2021

Containerboard and boxboard production in the United States in 2021 continues to outpace last year’s performance, according to the Washington-based American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA).

Total containerboard production in the U.S. in the third quarter increased 9 percent compared with the same three months of last year. Output is up 7 percent year to date, says AF&PA.

The containerboard mill operating rate averaged 95.6 percent in the third quarter of this year, up 1.7 points from the third quarter of 2020. The year-to-date average operating rate is up 1.5 points in 2021 compared with last year.

Overseas demand for U.S.-made containerboard enjoyed a bump, with AF&PA reporting that in this year’s third-quarter exports of containerboard increased 10 percent compared to the same quarter last year. Year-to-date, however, containerboard exports are down 15 percent compared with 2020.

Production figures for boxboard also are showing an increase, although recycled-content boxboard production lags the gains enjoyed by boxboard made with other materials.

Recycled-content boxboard production in the third quarter increased 1 percent compared with last year’s third quarter, while year to date it is down 1 percent.

Solid bleached boxboard production in the third quarter, meanwhile, increased by 10 percent compared with last year’s third quarter. It is up 1 percent year to date. Unbleached kraft and gypsum board production this year’s third quarter increased 5 percent compared with last year and is up 5 percent year to date.