Paper Bag Facts

Paper Bags are Renewable, Recyclable, Reusable and Compostable

  • Paper bags are made from a renewable resource — trees. The U.S. grows more trees than it harvests. There are 20 percent more trees in the U.S. now than there was on the first Earth Day in 1970.
  • 96 percent of the U.S. population has access to paper and paperboard community recycling programs.
  • The U.S. paper recovery rate reached 67.2 percent in 2016 — meeting or exceeding 63 percent for the past eight years.
  • Paper bags are ideal containers to use for composting residential yard and food waste, and are compostable themselves.

Mandating Recycled Content in Products Does not Drive Recycling Rates

  • Recycled fiber content mandates can have unintended economic and environmental effects. Rather than drive increased recovery of paper, mandating minimum recycled content only shift the available supply of fiber to other products where it is less efficiently used.
  • Global demand drives paper recovery, not government mandates. Global demand for recovered fiber exceeds supply and is growing. From 2003 to 2013 global consumption of recovered fiber grew 43 percent and consumption is expected to grow another 18 percent from 2013-2020.
  • Local and state governments should partner with industry, environmental groups, and consumers on programs to increase paper recovery.

Taxing Paper Bags is a Solution in Search of a Problem

  • Government imposed product taxes increase costs for consumers and can create distortions in the free flow of recoverable commodities..
  • Imposing a tax on paper products discourages consumers from using products that are recyclable, compostable, made of recycled material, and reusable.
  • Taxes and fees on bags are regressive — increasing the cost of basic necessities and disproportionately impacting low income and working families, the elderly, people with disabilities, and those who use public transit.

For more information on the paper industry’s sustainability efforts, visit sustainability.afandpa.org.