About a year ago I was wondering how the recession would affect paper recycling in the US. The answer is that it probably increased recycling percentages. The 2009 figure was 63.4% recovered paper, up a lot from 2008's 57.7%. I guess people took advantage of every opportunity to save pennies. Now I get to wonder whether this will stick. The long term trend has been an increase of about 1% per year since 1970, with noticeable flat spots and jumps in recycling.
I wouldn't be surprised to see the percentage stay flat for a few years. The economic recession did reduce paper production, making it easier to collect the 64% because new factories and systems were not needed. Instead production could shift from lower percentage facilities to higher percentage facilities. I also expect it to continue to increase as more people and commercial users learn techniques to gather used paper with less inconvenience and cost. Their experience will show that there are definite financial benefits to well organized recycling efforts, and this experience will continue to spread.