AF&PA Sustainability Awards Recognize Member Achievements

Dec 26, 2014

  By Donna Harman
AF&PA President & CEO

  Nov./Dec. Paper Age

 AF&PA recently honored five member companies for their 
 commitment to sustainability in presenting our 2014 AF&PA
 Sustainability Awards. The awards support our Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 initiative and are designed to recognize exemplary sustainability successes in the paper and wood products manufacturing industry.

AF&PA sustainability award applicants are considered in two primary categories. Projects that support the sustainability goals within Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 qualify for recognition in the “Leadership in Sustainability” category, which has five subcategories that correspond to the goals: Paper Recovery for Recycling, Energy Efficiency/Greenhouse Gas Reduction, Sustainable Forest Management, Safety, and Water. The “Innovation in Sustainability” award is reserved for projects that merit recognition for their contribution to sustainable business practices, not one of the goals specifically.

RockTenn received a Leadership in Sustainability Award for Sustainable Forest Management for its Internal Fiber Supply Chain Certification program. They achieved their sustainability goal to achieve fiber chain-of-custody certification to credible third-party forestry certifications at all their North American wholly owned manufacturing facilities by 2020 early, in 2013. The company initiated a dual purpose effort to bring all their non-certified facilities to the same certifications and to combine all their existing certifications into one enterprise-wide multisite certificate.

Evergreen Packaging was also awarded a Leadership in Sustainability Award for Sustainable Forest Management for their Certified Success – Evergreen Forest Certification program. The company developed Evergreen Forest Certification, a group certification program that meets the standards of the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®), and allows multiple landowners to be certified under a single group certificate – a cost-effective way for landowners to have their forests certified to internationally recognized standards. In its first year (2013), the program grew to include nearly 60 landowners comprising approximately 40,000 acres in North and South Carolina.

Expera Specialty Solutions was recognized with the Leadership in Sustainability Award for Safety for the Care Enough to Act program in their Nicolet Mill located in De Pere, Wisc. The Nicolet mill introduced initiatives to identify safety hazards, reinforce safe behaviors, and put company-wide best practices into place. This atmosphere of cooperation, accountability, and self-discipline led to all-time high safety improvements.

NewPage Corporation received two Leadership in Sustainability Awards. The first was the Leadership in Sustainability Award for Paper Recovery for Recycling for the NewPage Duluth Mill Recycling Recovery Program at their Duluth, Minn. mill. In this innovative recycling program, participating entities learn about recycling and receive funding for their organizations, and the mill receives clean, high-quality, recyclable paper. The program has recovered 2,900 tons of paper and contributed $500,000 to over 120 participating groups.

NewPage’s second award was the Leadership in Sustainability Award for Water for the NewPage Escanaba Mill Water Reduction Initiative. The Escanaba, Mich. mill carried out a comprehensive program of repairs and optimization, resulting in measurable water reductions throughout mill area operations. The reduced water use led to reduced costs required for the heating, pumping, and treatment of water and supports ongoing resource conservation efforts at the mill.  

Domtar received the Leadership in Sustainability Award for Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reductions for their Barge Unloading and Conveyor Project. This one-mile-long conveyor belt from the banks of the Ohio River straight into their Hawesville, Ky. Mill enabled Domtar to directly deliver wood chips to the mill, eliminating 54,000 wood chip delivery truck trips and drastically reducing truck traffic and related congestion and pollution.

Domtar was also awarded this year’s Innovation in Sustainability Award for their BioChoice Lignin – a glowing example of our industry’s potential to produce new value streams out of existing resources. Domtar leveraged their Plymouth, N.C. mill’s existing infrastructure to start a lignin separation plant – the first of its kind in North America in over 25 years. Lignin is the natural glue that holds wood fibers together. While it is most commonly used as a carbon-neutral source of fuel, modern technology allows it to be made into a wide range of sustainable products, including coating, natural binders, plastics and resins.

These winning programs showcase the proactive approaches our members are taking to improve upon their business practices and contribute to achieving the Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability goals by 2020. AF&PA’s 2014 Sustainability Report showed that the industry has already made significant, measurable progress toward achieving the goals.  

For more information about AF&PA’s Sustainability Awards program and Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 initiative, visit