By Donna Harman
President & CEO
We are one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the nation with a vibrant story to tell. What better time to share it than during National Forest Products Week (NFPW). So mark your calendars for October 21 – 27 and get ready to join us, industry representatives, employees and advocates in Washington and around the country for the 58th anniversary of the celebration.
From the paper towels used to keep your countertops germ-free, to the packaging around the goods you ordered online, to the cups holding your coffee, forest products make everyday life easier. We’re eager to showcase the companies and dedicated employees who make these valuable contributions to society and the economy and underscore how the public policy we advocate for will support their ability to continue that mission.
Videos, blogs, advertising, social media, press releases, a dedicated AF&PA website and more are on deck, ready to go as part of our broad communications strategy. To get you ready, here’s a sneak preview of the admiration we have for our workers and the positive strides and ongoing actions we’re talking to support them and their companies.
Let’s start with a shout out to our employees: Approximately 950,000 men and women in rural and urban communities in 45 states. They form our foundation, and our hats go off to them each and every day. The foresight, innovation and dedication they’ve applied to make important sustainability advancements is but one example. Their contributions are clearly visible in the progress cited in the 2018 Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability initiative which reported energy efficiency and worker safety improvements ahead of schedule.
And speaking of sustainability, our customers and consumers deserve a shout out as well for their commitment to recycling. Almost 66 percent of paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling in 2017, and we’ve set our sights higher at a 70 percent paper recovery for recycling goal by 2020. During NFPW and the upcoming holiday season, when consumers are likely to have more paper-based packaging on their hands, we’ll be reminding everyone that recycling helps the industry create new paper and paper-based packaging products. That means: Keep it dry, keep it clean, put it in the bin.
Common-sense public policy remains central to the forest products industries’ ability to contribute to economic growth and job creation. And, we’ll continue to make the case for reforms and policies that do more good than harm, including those pertaining to trade and regulatory reform.
Free and fair trade policies that recognize our strong global position are essential. Estimates show that at least 135,000 jobs at pulp, paper and wood products mills and related logging operations are directly dependent on U.S. exports of our products. Additional jobs in mill communities and in our supply chain also rely on open markets for U.S. exports. Our industry supported NAFTA because it provided us duty-free access to the Canadian and Mexican markets. And, as policymakers weigh potential changes to NAFTA, we want to ensure these markets remain open to our exports and recognize the benefits of our interconnected supply chain.
We’ll continue to speak up against China’s discriminatory policy on recovered paper imports known as National Sword. Recovered paper for recycling is a commodity that should retain its access to free markets that allow the flow of fiber to meet the needs of users who value it the most. From where we stand, China has violated its obligation under the World Trade Organization and is disrupting international trade and the global market for recovered fiber by import-limiting actions.
On the regulatory reform front, we’re gratified with Congressional support for legislation directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy to establish policies that reflect the carbon neutrality of forest-based bioenergy. For more than seven years, our companies have sought clear guidance on biomass carbon neutrality and deserve the ability to operate on a level playing field with global competitors. Implementation of this directive will help achieve this long-overdue goal.
But these points are only part of the forest products story. We all have something to share. Please join us and engage in the conversation, as well as taking a moment to describe how the forest products industry impacts your life. Surely, there are a few more chapters we can add to the NFPW book.
Stay up to date with latest information by tuning in to www.afandpa.org and following @ForestandPaper, @PaperRecycles and using the hashtag #ForestProductsWeek on Facebook and Twitter.