By Donna Harman
President & CEO
Paper...Packaging…Pulp…Wood products. The forest products
industry is responsible for providing essential products people
depend on in their daily lives. This week’s Presidential Proclamation
of National Forest Products Week is an opportunity to celebrate our
products and our industry’s contribution to America.
We innovate to deliver new products that meet the emerging needs of businesses and consumers here at home and around the globe. Paper and wood products are personal in nature, providing tangible materials with unique qualities. If you’ve ever written a letter or read a book, our products have served to communicate and inform. Where ever you live, chances are good that our products provide shelter. If you buy groceries or make purchases from catalogs or online, paper-based packaging has provided nutrition information, been used to protect your items from damage or spoilage during transport, and conveyed important product information. And, if you have ever received a birthday card from a loved one or seen your newborn child’s footprint taken minutes after arriving in this world, our products have touched your heart. Quite simply, forest products are so integrated in our lives that it can be easy to lose sight of the value they provide.
The development, innovation and manufacture of our products require immense technical and scientific expertise. Wood-based nanomaterials enable development of lighter, stronger, and greener packaging materials. Industry produced energy derived from carbon neutral biomass reduces the nation’s need for fossil fuels. Advancements are being made in food packaging, tissue, and hygiene products from pulp and paper innovations. High purity wood-fiber pulp is a key component of high-tech applications like flat-screen televisions. Our industry takes great pride in delivering the products that people expect today and will rely on tomorrow.
Our commitment to sustainability will ensure that these technologically evolving and highly valued products will be available far into the future. Our members produce recyclable products from a renewable resource and their business practices are rooted in sustainable advancements, which will benefit our environment, our economy and our society.
The members of AF&PA challenged themselves to do more, to continue improvement of our performance, and invest in our future. We established a comprehensive sustainability initiative to target our efforts. The initiative is called Better Practices, Better Planet 2020, through which AF&PA members are delivering tangible results in paper recycling, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reductions, safety, and water usage and sustainable forestry.
Our contributions to the economic and social fabric of our nation and its communities are vast. We are among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 47 states, and our mills often are the leading provider of jobs and benefits in rural communities across America. We provide good-paying wages for highly skilled positions - exceeding the average for all U.S. private sector workers by about 50 percent. The nearly 900,000 men and women of our industry are the backbone of a successful forest products industry. And, the impact of forest products is even greater through trade in the global marketplace, with the U.S. boasting net exporter status for pulp and paperboard.
The men and women who work in our companies are making advancements and developing new products to meet the evolving needs of our society. This week, take note of how forest products are a part of your life. From your morning coffee to go, to the paper bag full of groceries you pick up on the way home, to the report you print for your boss, to the crayon-laced picture your child draws for you. Maybe it’s the house in which you live or the deck where you gather for the family cookout. Or, perhaps it’s realizing the achievement of higher education as you look at the diploma hanging on your wall. Paper and wood products bring utility, communication, hygiene and emotion to our daily lives. So this week in particular, celebrate forest products with us.