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Paper Recycling Markets

Markets affect how and which materials are collected for recycling, so it is important to consider the market for recovered paper before beginning a paper recycling program. Supply and demand for recovered paper influences the economics of paper recycling.

Market Influence

Recovered paper is a global commodity. Supply and demand for recovered paper fluctuates, sometimes dramatically, with ever-changing economic conditions. How you choose to sort your paper will depend on the market for that paper. Currently, the market for recovered paper is very strong because of the demand from China and India.

Types of Markets

A market can be intermediate (such as a materials recovery facility, processor, or packer that sorts, grades, bales, and sells recovered paper) or an end-use market such as paper recycling mills and manufacturers of other products made from recovered paper. Discuss market options with your hauler or paper recycler, who should already be familiar with markets for recovered paper in your area.

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Export of Recovered Paper

In recent years, dramatic economic growth in China has fueled very strong export demand for America’s recovered paper. This has caused prices to skyrocket, making it more expensive to produce recycled paper here at home. One way we can help is to collect more recovered paper. Increasing supply will lower costs, which in turn, will enable mills to manufacture and sell more recycled-content paper.

In 2007, approximately 35 percent of recovered paper was exported to overseas markets. About 62 percent stayed in the US to be recycled into paper and paperboard products. The remainder was used to make other non-paper products like molded packaging, compost, and kitty litter.

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