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AF&PA reports slight decline in U.S. paper and paperboard capacity

Mixed paper travels down a sorting line
The report provides detailed data on U.S. paper industry capacity and production compiled by AF&PA's statistics team. Adobe Stock Images

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) has released the 63rd Paper Industry Capacity and Fiber Consumption survey. The report provides detailed data on U.S. paper industry capacity and production compiled by AF&PA's statistics team. 

U.S. paper and paperboard capacity declined slightly by 0.4 percent in 2022 to 81 million tons. That compares to an average decline of 0.9 percent per year since 2013.

The U.S. paper industry continues to respond to shifting demands by converting paper machines to produce packaging grades, sustaining local communities and increasing the use of recovered fibre. 

U.S. paper and paperboard production declined 3.3 percent last year, with boxboard increasing, containerboard and printing-writing declining, and tissue staying about the same.

U.S. paper-based packaging capacity

Containerboard capacity declined 0.6 percent in 2022. Containerboard's share of total paper and paperboard capacity continued to exceed 50 percent.

Meanwhile, boxboard capacity rose 2.4 percent in 2022. Currently, there are plans to add boxboard capacity in 2025 or later to meet the demand for paper-based consumer packaging.

U.S. printing-writing and tissue capacity

Printing-writing capacity declined 0.7 percent in 2022 as the sector rebounded from averaging a double-digit decline during 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A printing-writing machine was restarted, with no capacity closures reported. 

Tissue capacity declined 0.4 percent in 2022. From a longer-term perspective, capacity increased at an average annual rate of 0.7 percent from 2013 to 2022.

What is capacity?

Capacity is the tonnage of paper, paperboard, or pulp that could be produced with full use of the equipment and adequate supplies of raw materials and labour, assuming full demand. 

AF&PA's Capacity Survey details U.S. industry capacity data for 2022 and 2023 for all major grades of paper, paperboard, and pulp, as well as fibre consumption. It is based on a comprehensive survey of U.S. pulp and paper mills. It includes production data for 2022. 

AF&PA data represents about 88 percent of U.S. paper and paperboard industry capacity, with estimates completing the data set.

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