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WestRock Company Wins Two 2017 AF&PA Sustainability Awards

CONTACT: Katharine Eaton
(202) 463-2436,

Recognized with Awards for Water and Innovation

WASHINGTON – The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) recognized WestRock Company with two 2017 AF&PA Sustainability Awards. This is the third consecutive year AF&PA has honored WestRock for its sustainability advancements. The awards were presented at AF&PA’s annual meeting on Friday, Nov. 3 in Greensboro, Georgia. 

WestRock received a Leadership in Sustainability Award for Water for its Covington Mill Power Boiler Ash Handling Systems project and the Innovation in Sustainability Award for its Moving Products the Green Way project.

“By converting and updating an existing system at its Covington, Virginia mill, WestRock reduced the facility’s water use and is now able to provide a biomass byproduct for beneficial reuse,” said AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman.

To optimize its management of fly ash – a byproduct of burning coal in boilers for energy in the paper mill's manufacturing process – WestRock’s Covington, Virginia mill converted its boiler ash handling system from a water-managed to a dry ash system. Benefits include an 8 percent reduction in daily water usage at the mill, improved water effluent quality, and increased opportunities for reuse of the fly ash.

“Developing innovative software allowed WestRock to reduce the environmental impact of its transportation systems and save costs without sacrificing the company’s high standards for customer service,” said Harman.

In collaboration with a software vendor, WestRock enhanced and deployed a tool that facilitates reducing the number of shipments needed to provide on-time delivery of products to their customers, while saving money, avoiding fossil fuel use, and reducing greenhouse gas and other air emissions associated with their transportation footprint.

“We are honored to be recognized by AF&PA with the Innovation in Sustainability Award and Leadership in Sustainability Award for Water,” said WestRock CEO Steve Voorhees. “WestRock is focused on improving our existing systems to benefit people, planet and performance – the three pillars of our sustainability platform."

Designed to recognize exemplary sustainability programs and initiatives in the paper and wood products manufacturing industry, AF&PA’s annual sustainability awards are given based on the merit of entries received across multiple categories.

Projects that support progress toward the Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability goals qualify for recognition in the “Leadership” 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.

AF&PA releases its sustainability report every other year. The 2016 Sustainability Report showed that the U.S. pulp, paper, packaging, tissue and wood products manufacturing industry has made significant, measurable progress toward achieving its Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability goals.

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Editor’s Note: Click here to retrieve photos (caption included) of the award winners.


About WestRock 
WestRock (NYSE:WRK) partners with our customers to provide differentiated paper and packaging solutions that help them win in the marketplace. WestRock’s 45,000 team members support customers around the world from more than 300 operating and business locations spanning North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Learn more at

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance U.S. paper and wood products manufacturers through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. The forest products industry is circular by nature. AF&PA member companies make essential products from renewable and recycle resources, generate renewable bioenergy and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative—Better Practices, Better Planet 2030: Sustainable Products for a Sustainable Future. The forest products industry accounts for approximately four percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures nearly $300 billion in products annually and employs approximately 950,000 people. The industry meets a payroll of approximately $60 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 45 states. Visit AF&PA online at or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper.