AF&PA Releases 62nd Paper Industry Capacity and Fiber Consumption Survey

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Continued Increase in Containerboard Capacity and Recovered Fiber Consumption

WASHINGTON – The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) today released the 62nd Paper Industry Capacity and Fiber Consumption Survey, indicating overall U.S. paper and paperboard capacity declined, 0.4% in 2021, compared to the average decline of 1.0% per year since 2012. 

Key findings include: 

  • Containerboard capacity continued to expand for the 11th consecutive year and reached a record high of 42.3 million tons. Most notably, containerboard capacity expanded at its fastest rate in 25 years. As a result of these increases and decreases in other grades, containerboard share of total paper and paperboard capacity exceeded 50% for the first time in 2021. 

  • Recovered paper consumption at U.S. paper and paperboard mills increased 3.9% in 2021, the highest level of recovered paper consumption by U.S. mills since 2008. This is also the highest share of total fiber consumption at U.S. mills ever, and the 9th consecutive year of increases in the share from 36.0% in 2012 to 41.6% in 2021. 

  • Boxboard capacity increased 0.6% in 2021, following a 2.5% decline last year and outperforming its long-term trend of a 0.4% decline. 

  • Tissue paper capacity remained the same. 

  • The U.S. paper and paperboard industry has responded to shifting demands by repurposing 9 machines to produce packaging grades. 

Survey responses indicate total paper and paperboard capacity will remain flat in 2022, with increases in boxboard and newsprint, stability in containerboard and tissue, and declines in printing-writing. 

The Survey details U.S. industry capacity data for 2021 and 2022 for all major grades of paper, paperboard and pulp, as well as fiber consumption, based on a comprehensive survey of all U.S. pulp and paper mills. Data includes responses from companies representing more than 88% of U.S. paper and paperboard industry capacity, with estimates completing the data set. 

The complete Survey is available for purchase. Please visit our website or contact Kory Bockman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 202-463-4716 for this report or other industry reports.

Source: AF&PA