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Paper Recycling Case Studies Outline Path to Success

In-depth case studies of some winners of the American Forest & Paper Association's recycling awards show how businesses, municipalities and schools have developed innovative and highly successful recycling programs.

Recycling, especially recycling paper products, has become almost a no-brainer in the United States. As we find in our annual State of Green Business report, the amount of paper recycled every year continues to climb: Last year found over 50 percent of domestic paper consumption was recycled, and the industry group the American Forest & Paper Association aims to hit 60 percent recovery by 2012.

But some recycling programs are more effective than others, and for the past four years the AF&PA has handed out awards to businesses, municipalities and schools that have had a high degree of success with their recycling projects.

The group yesterday published a handful of case studies from its 2009 award winners: Giant Eagle (business), Stanford University (universities), Wake County School District in North Carolina (schools), and Orange County, N.C. (community). The case studies highlight how much paper these groups have recycled, and go into detail about the history of the programs, how employees (or students or residents) are educated or trained, how recyclables are collected, and how improvements in the program are tracked. The case study for supermarket chain Giant Eagle reports, for example:
Amount of paper recovered for recycling in 2008: Giant Eagle recovered approximately 42,555 tons of paper in 2008 (555 tons of mixed paper and 42,000 tons of corrugated cardboard). Recycling volume has generally increased over the past 4 years with the roll out of the Utility and Recycling Initiative and mixed office paper recycling programs.

Technology Improvements: Giant Eagle allocated funds for the installation of dedicated plastic balers in all but two corporate locations, which permitted the store’s existing balers to be used exclusively for collection and baling of corrugated cardboard. A baler is a piece of equipment that Giant Eagle uses to compress corrugated cardboard and plastic film into cubes. This addition greatly simplified the process for store personnel.
The full case studies are available online at

Photo CC-licensed by Flickr user Pylon757.

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