OCC Recycling Rate Tops 91 Percent

OCC Recycling Rate Tops 91 Percent

Corrugated Packaging Alliance says OCC is the most recycled packaging material.

According to the Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA), 91 percent of the corrugated packaging used in the United States in 2012— 29 million tons—was collected for recycling, making it the most recycled packaging material.

The CPA is a corrugated industry initiative that is jointly sponsored by the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), the Association of Independent Corrugated Converters (AICC), and the Fibre Box Association (FBA).

The CPA also found that more than 50 percent of the OCC collected is used to make new containerboard. An additional 12 percent was used to make recycled paperboard and 34 percent was exported.

In a release, the CPA says that the corrugated industry continues to support the increased OCC recovery for recycling by modernizing equipment so that OCC can be used at manufacturing facilities; supporting business, community and school recycling programs and developing a standard protocol for corrugated boxes treated for moisture resistance.

Where OCC Goes: 

Grade Thousands of tons Percent
Containerboard 14,588 50.1
Recycled Paperboard 3,510 12
Packaging & Industrial 484 1.7
Tissue 224 0.9
Newsprint 0 0.0
Other 251 0.9
Net exports 10,007 34.6
Total 29,134 100

2010 Recovery Rates

Packaging category 2010 Recovery rate % Change in discarded tonnage (1990-2010)
OCC 85% -65
Paper-based 71.3% -47
Aluminum 35.8% +37
Glass 33.4% -32
Plastics 13.5% +78