November 20, 2013  
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Paper Industry Votes Yes For The Paper Check-off
(Editor's Note: Based on press releases from AF&PA dated November 15, 2013, and excerpts from the Paper Check-off website.)

The paper industry has voted overwhelmingly to create the Paper and Paper-based Packaging Promotion and Research program (Paper Check-off). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the referendum results (concluded on November 8), in which 85 percent of the companies and 95 percent of the production voted to support the measure.

“Today’s announcement represents a seminal moment for our industry to stand together and promote the benefits of paper and paper-based packaging to customers and consumers,” said Paper Check-off Panel Chairman John Williams, president and CEO of Domtar. “Our industry produces recyclable products from a renewable resource. The Paper Check-off will allow us to inform consumers of the sustainable products we make and the responsible manner in which we make them.”

“The industry’s approval of the Paper Check-off program offers a new opportunity to build on our long history of innovating paper products to meet the needs of consumers around the world,” said AF&PA Board Chairman David Scheible, president and CEO of Graphic Packaging International. “Paper and paper-based packaging is a sustainable choice, and the Paper Check-off will allow us to make a concerted effort of educating and informing consumers of the benefits our products offer.”

The successful referendum concludes a three-year journey for paper industry leaders, who conducted research, identified the opportunity to improve customer and consumer knowledge about our products and worked to develop the program and inform the industry of the benefits the Paper Check-off could provide. At the request of the industry, USDA issued the proposed Paper and Paper-based Packaging Promotion Research and Information Order for public comment in January 2013. The second proposed rule was issued in September, announcing the Oct. 28-Nov 8 referendum, in which all covered companies were allowed to vote on the proposal.

The Paper Check-off joins numerous other agricultural based products in using the Department of Agriculture’s program structure to fund product promotion, education and research. The initiative will cover four segments of the paper industry: printing and writing; Kraft packaging paper (used for products such as grocery bags); containerboard (used to make shipping containers); and paperboard (used for food and beverage packaging, tubes, etc). Newsprint and carbonless papers will not be included in the program.

The program will be administered by a 12-member board of directors and funded by an assessment of 35 cents per short ton on companies producing or importing 100,000 short tons or more annually of the covered grades. Producers and importers under the 100,000 short ton threshold, along with converters, will not be assessed but will benefit from the promotion program.

“This new $25 million program reaching across the paper and paper-based packaging industry offers a tremendous opportunity for improved marketplace information and decision making about our products,” Williams concluded.

“The leaders of our industry have expressed overwhelming support to initiate a program that will shine a light on the sustainability benefits of paper and paper-based packaging,” said AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman. “The Paper Check-off will offer a brighter future for the recyclable, reusable and renewable paper and paper-based packaging products, which inform and communicate; package and protect; and capture life’s memorable moments. We appreciate the work of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide our industry the opportunity to vote for the Paper Check-off.”

(following from the Paper Check-off website)

What Is a Check-Off?
Authorized by federal legislation, a Check-off is designed to maintain and expand markets for an industry’s products. Check-offs are governed by an Order that sets the parameters of the program and are run by an industry nominated board of directors appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. While program funds may not be used for lobbying or advocacy, they are available for informational, educational, and promotional activities in support of an industry’s products.

Check-offs have successfully turned the tables for a wide array of industries providing returns on investment ranging from:

  • A 17.5 percent increase in annual propane sales, thanks to a $39 million a year investment.
  • For each dollar invested in the program, the pork industry estimates a return of $4.79, while the beef industry reports $5.55, the soybean industry $6.75, and the watermelon industry slightly more than $10.

For more information about the program, visit

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance a sustainable U.S. pulp, paper, packaging, and wood products manufacturing industry through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. For more information contact: Chuck Fuqua at: [email protected].


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