By Donna Harman
President & CEO, American Forest & Paper Association
People across the country and the world rely on our industry’s
products to communicate and inform, provide shelter and hygiene,
package and deliver necessities, and capture life’s memorable
We are able to ensure that these useful products and the resources required to make them will be as plentiful in the future as they are today through our members’ sustainable business practices.
AF&PA’s recently released 2014 Sustainability Report details the industry’s progress on the Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability goals; one of the most extensive collections of quantifiable sustainability goals for a major U.S. manufacturing industry.
Our members are committed to sustainability along the entire value chain, starting with the renewable resources our members acquire to make their products. AF&PA members procure 95 percent of their fiber through certified fiber sourcing programs and have also increased the amount of fiber procured from certified forestlands.
AF&PA is a strong proponent of international efforts to suppress illegal logging and to reduce the demand for illegally harvested forest products. We actively engage with businesses, ENGOs and government policy makers to ensure the U.S. is not a market of choice for illegally harvested wood.
Our vision for the industry is one of zero injuries in our manufacturing facilities. AF&PA members have reduced the safety incidence rate in their facilities by 24 percent. The improvements to our industry brought forth by our sustainability goals all contribute to the well-being of our employees.
Our members’ purchased energy efficiency improved by 8.8 percent due to investments in energy efficiency projects. Improved energy efficiency allows our industry to produce more with less, leaves more natural resources for future use, and reduces costs, which supports existing jobs and helps create new ones. Some of our members’ pulp and paper mills are largely energy self-sufficient, producing onsite nearly two-thirds of the energy used for production, and in some cases supplying energy to the electric utility grid.
Members are closing in on achieving the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 15 percent – reaching a 14.5 percent reduction. Greenhouse gas emissions reductions also are supported by our sustainable forestry, energy efficiency and recovery for recycling goals.
Just like trees, water is a valuable natural resource and a vital component of the papermaking process. Members strive to manage their water use in a sustainable manner, continually seeking ways to reduce water use and increase water reuse and recycling. So far, water use is 6 percent lower than before in member pulp and paper mills.
Our industry’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond the manufacturing process: more than 60 percent of paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling each year since 2009, reaching 63.5 percent in 2013. By weight, more paper is recovered from municipal solid waste streams than plastic, glass, aluminum and steel combined.
While paper recovery success is due to the millions of individuals who choose to recycle every day, the industry works to promote paper recovery through school programs that educate students and their families about the importance of paper recycling; partnerships with government and other organizations to encourage paper recycling; and the annual AF&PA Recycling Awards, which recognize outstanding school, community and business paper recycling programs.
Our members are united in the objective to ensure the industry’s long-term success through improved environmental performance, economic progress and support for the communities where we live and work.
We are proud to represent member companies that are serious about sustainability.