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Choosing paper and paper-based packaging helps us plant more trees, protect wildlife habitats and reduce waste through product innovation and widespread recycling.

It’s true! Scroll down to find out how.


The makers of paper and paper packaging are continually working on ways to make recycling easier, on designs and processes that create less waste, and on renewing our forests to ensure an abundance of trees for generations to come. With limited resources, we must be mindful of the products we produce and the way we produce them with the future of the planet in mind.

Some call this “the circular economy,” and it is quickly becoming the focal point of sustainability. We like to think of it as a circle of caring. And every time you choose paper-based products, you play a part in helping us continue that cycle. Here’s how we do it.

Paper is made from tree fiber, a resource that is renewable because trees regenerate and new ones—more than 1 billion every year—are planted. Over the decades, sustainable forestry has evolved to encompass all the ways we ensure that forests stay vital and productive.

Sustainable forestry is the backbone of our efforts, supported by communities and private forest owners with long histories—sometimes a century or more—of growing and caring for forests to keep them healthy.

The income that landowners receive for trees grown on their land, often from our industry, encourages them to maintain, manage and renew this valuable resource instead of selling their land for development or for agricultural uses.

That care includes identifying and eliminating pests and diseases, safeguarding against wildfires, protecting soil and water, promoting biodiversity, creating wildlife habitats and shepherding different stands of trees through their natural growth and regrowth cycles.



Paper may have been around for thousands of years, but the technology that helps us plant trees, manage land and protect forests today is cutting-edge. More than 1 billion trees are planted in the U.S. each year. In the past 30 years, U.S. forestland has grown by nearly 33 million acres. That’s like 2,275 football fields of forest growth every day.

From drones to satellite imagery, technology shows us in real-time where those 1 billion trees should be planted, or where pests may be lurking or disease spreading so we can remove sick trees to help keep forests healthy.

Click the buttons below for more details about each technology

Revolutionizing mapping and planting

Drones are critical for modern forestry. They can go where we sometimes can’t, helping us create more accurate maps of forestland.

Drones help save our forests by allowing people to collect vital information on the health of forests and the creatures that live there.

More importantly, these forest drones enable us to drop pre-germinated seeds precisely where we need to plant more trees. These seeds can carry a nutritious hydrogel that provides moisture and vital minerals, leading to more successful sprouting and growth.

Learn more about how technology helps keep forests healthy in the article at the end of this page.


As more consumer brands increase their commitment to paper and paper packaging, their packaging is increasingly designed with recycling in mind, giving us a greater variety of sustainable choices.

How much recycled material shows up in new packaging varies based on what the packaging needs to do. But whether it is 10% or 100% recycled material, your choice to use paper is a win for the environment because even new paper can become recycled packaging and it incentivizes forestland owners to plant more timber at a higher rate than what was used.

Learn more about some paper and product innovations


Shelf-Stable Cartons

This innovation can help extend the shelf life of food products, reducing waste. Their size and shape mean they also require less fuel to ship and store.

Extreme-Cold Storage

Coolers made of paper are nothing new. But reusable ones that can keep lifesaving medical supplies at subzero temperatures and then be recycled? Game changing.

E-Commerce Upgrades

Lightweight, durable and stackable, advancements in cardboard help us ship things like detergent right in the container they come in – and using fewer trips, thanks to rightsizing.


Thanks to people like you, paper and paper-based packaging are the most recycled materials in the United States.

On average, 92.4% of corrugated cardboard packaging gets recycled every year.

In 2020, the overall recycling rate for paper was 65.7%.

As we increasingly rely on online shopping and e-commerce deliveries, improving residential recycling has become more important than ever. It’s critical for businesses and consumers alike to continue playing their roles, which is why we’re always working on products and processes to make it even easier for everyone to recycle.

The natural cellulose fibers that make paper products can generally be used to make new products up to seven times (especially when combined with some fresh fiber).

To continue to help everyone make the best use of recycled fiber in our products, our industry has planned $5 billion in manufacturing infrastructure investments by 2023. Those investments will help use 7.8 million tons of recycled fiber—enough to fill New York’s Grand Central Terminal 124 times.

See how recycling plays into our circle of caring for nature


While recyclable packaging and recycling processes get more attention, the paper industry’s journey to zero waste starts with sustainable innovations at our mills.

Juno®, a new waste recycling technology from Georgia-Pacific, can turn up to 90% of waste that would otherwise go to landfills and incinerators back into recyclable materials.

Pratt Industries takes pride in the fact that all five mills it operates in the U.S. use only 100% recycled paper as input.

Advancements in papermaking techniques and fiber recycling technology help mills like the ones owned by Green Bay Packaging and Graphic Packaging operate using less energy and reduce raw material waste.

Water is a precious resource, which is why Sappi mills return 95% of the water they use back to the source—sometimes even cleaner than it started off.

Find an in-depth look at how innovations make paper mills more sustainable at the end of this page.


When you choose paper packaging, you choose not just to protect what’s inside but to support the industry that has been a leader in sustainability since the beginning.

Your choices plant trees.
Your choices replenish habitats.
Your choices can make you an agent of change.


Just like your choices have the power to make change, so do ours. Click the articles below to learn more about the sustainable nature of the paper and packaging industry.

More About Forestry