That all depends on how you look at it. On a global scale, paper consumption is definitely increasing, reaching a record 371 million metric tons in 2009. However, paper consumption in North America declined 24% between 2006 and 2009. The State of the Paper Industry: 2011 report attributes the change to the decline of print media and to businesses getting leaner and more efficient in the wake of the so-called financial crisis. Much of the growth in global demand for paper products has been from China, which passed North America in consumption of paper for the first time in 2009.

In spite of the encouraging recent drop in paper consumption in North America, we still use far more paper than the rest of the world. North Americans consume almost 5 times more paper than the world average per capita, 30 times more paper than the average person in Africa, and 6 times more than the average person in Asia. Together in 2009, the United States and Canada made up about 5% of the world’s population and consumed 17% of the world’s paper.

The Bottom Line Global paper consumption is on the rise, but in certain areas of the world, including North America, paper consumption is declining.
Source: The State of the Paper Industry: 2011