NY should look to paper recycling as a model for other materials (Your letters)

For the editor:

The March 23, 2022, letter to the editor from OCRRA Executive Director Kevin Spillane and Director of Recycling and Reduction Kristen Lawton (“OCRRA: How Governor Hochul’s Packaging Proposal Will Solve the Crisis recycling in New York”) omits a key detail: Not all packaging materials are recycled at the same rates. In fact, more paper by weight is recycled from municipal waste streams than plastic, glass, steel and aluminum combined. Policymakers should consider the recycling successes of individual industries instead of lumping vastly different materials into one policy bucket.

The American Forest & Paper Association is actively engaged with Albany leaders about New York’s paper recycling accomplishments. Our industry is a leader in recycling. Thanks to billions of dollars of private investment, the paper industry recycles more than 50 million tons of recovered paper annually, a total of more than one billion tons over the past two decades. Overall, paper recycling is already approaching rates that would be practically achievable. For example, the cardboard recycling rate in 2020 was almost 89%, a rate that extended producer responsibility (EPR) is not expected to improve. And in New York, nearly 90% of residents already have access to curbside recycling.

Reducing pollution and strengthening recycling infrastructure are crucial environmental goals. However, if EPR policies do not take into account decades of paper success, these policies could jeopardize our paper recycling system. Albany lawmakers should view paper recycling as a model for improving recycling rates for low-recovery materials, not as a blanket approach that ignores decades of paper recycling success.

Terry Webber

Vice President, Industrial Affairs

American Forestry and Paper Association

washington d.c.

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