Wood and paper products meet the everyday needs of consumers and businesses. They provide materials essential for communication, education, packaging, construction, shelter, sanitation, and protection.

The U.S. forest products industry is based on a renewable and sustainable raw material: wood. It practices recovery and recycling in its operations. Its forests help the global carbon balance by taking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The industry also contributes to land management and natural resource conservation. Following decades as a global leader, the industry is increasingly challenged by its traditional competitors (Canada, Scandinavia, Japan) as well as by emerging nations (Brazil, Chile, Indonesia). Technical challenges facing the industry are centered on using recycled materials cost-effectively, meeting environmental regulations, and reducing energy costs. Other pressures include the diminishing amount of land available for tree farms and a lack of capital for carrying out long-term research and development projects.


The U.S. pulp, paper, and paperboard mill industry consists of about 250 companies.1 In 2010, domestic pulp and paper mills produced $169 billion in product, about 5% of the value of all manufacturing shipments. The forest products industry generates 5% of the manufacturing GDP in the United States.2


The United States produced 89.8 million tons of paper products and 57.5 million tons of pulp in 2003. The table below shows the distribution of production in 2007.

World Pulp and Paper Production in 20074

Latin America9.6%4.8%
North America39%25.6%
Rest of World3%2.1%
WORLD TOTAL194.2 million
metric tons
394.3 million
metric tons



The forest products industry provides jobs in all 50 states. In 2002, there were 22,722 U.S. manufacturing facilities, including 5,520 for pulp and paper and 17,202 for wood products.


The forest products industry is also the third-largest industrial consumer of energy and generates more than 2 billion tons of waste each year–mostly in the form of non-hazardous waste water and sludge. Total energy use for the industry was 2.805 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2006.3

In 2008, producing a ton of paper required, on average, approximately 24.5 million Btu per ton,2 a productivity rate that has not changed substantially over the past decade. The industry generates 63% of its own energy using its woody waste products and other renewable sources for fuel (bark, wood, and pulping liquor). As a leader in generation and consumption of renewable energy, the U.S. forest products industry generates 28.5 million megawatt hours annually.2 Since 1972, the industry has reduced its use of fossil fuels and purchased energy by about 2%, yet increased its total production by nearly 64%. In 2009, 63.4% of paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered by recycling in the industry.2 The forest products industry spent $11.48 billion on purchased energy for heat and power in 2006, or just under 3% of the value of its shipments that year.


Over 900,000 people are employed directly by the forest products industry and the industry provides jobs in all 50 states while being a top 10 manufacturing employer in 48 states.2

1 Hoovers
2 American Forest & Paper Association
3 Manufacturing Energy Consumpt
4 Forest Products Industry Technology Roadmap