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AF&PA Highlights Remarkable Sustainability Progress of US Paper & Wood Products

August 17, 2020

This post originally appeared on Fisher International's FI Insights blog.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) recently released its 2020 Sustainability Report, highlighting the paper and wood products industry’s sustainability efforts.

The report included members’ progress toward achieving the Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability goals instituted in 2011.

“On behalf of all AF&PA members, I am proud of the progress we’ve made together. Our industry continues to demonstrate leadership in sustainability across the entire value chain as we produce essential products for everyday life,” Mark Sutton, CEO of International Paper and chairman of the AF&PA Board of Directors, said in a release.

The full report (available by clicking this link)­­ highlights dozens of achievements is energy efficiency, worker safety, recycling, and other areas. The following are highlights for the pulp and paper industry:

  • 03_Solutions_mill-suppliersMembers procured 99 percent of the total wood fiber through a Certified Sourcing Program – a 12 percent increase from the 2005 baseline.
  • Members’ pulp and paper mill water use per ton of product decreased by 6.9 percent, largely unchanged from recent years. When adjusted to provide greater weight to reductions occurring at mills in water-stressed areas, pursuant to the World Resources Institute (WRI) aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, members reduced process water use by 13.1 percent.
  • In 2019, the paper recycling rate was 66.2 percent, falling shy of the 70 percent goal, but still, nearly a 15 percent increase from the 2005 baseline.
  • Clearwater Paper replaced an old Kraft batch digester system at their Lewiston, Idaho pulp mill with a continuous digester that significantly reduced the mill’s reliance on fossil fuels. The company saved more than 100,000 pounds per hour of steam compared to the previous batch process — an estimated reduction of 150,000 tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year. Their reduced energy needs are expected to avoid the same amount of GHG emissions per year going forward.
  • Seaman Paper reduced their electricity consumption by over 1.2 million kilowatt hours per year by switching a significant portion of their lighting to LED.
  • In 2018, AF&PA member pulp and paper mills self-generated 55 percent of the electricity needed to power their mills, most of which was renewable using carbon-neutral biomass manufacturing residuals. Thirty-eight percent of member mills generated more than half of their needed electricity and twenty-one percent also sold excess power — much of it renewable — to the grid.
  • Resolute Forest Products took concrete action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at their pulp, paper, tissue and wood products mills across the United States and Canada by improving the energy efficiency of their operations, producing renewable energy and managing water efficiently, as well as reducing waste and reliance on fossil fuels. These actions have allowed Resolute to reduce their absolute GHG emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 81 percent relative to 2000 levels, benefiting both the environment and their bottom line.
  • Globally, paper and wood products companies with U.S. operations spent $1.8 billion on R&D in 2017, the vast majority of which ($1.5 billion) was spent domestically.
  • International Paper helped plant nearly 48,000 trees in 2019 through the Arbor Day Foundation’s Community Tree Recovery program — a public and private partnership aimed at distributing free trees to residents in communities affected by natural disaster.

To read the full 2020 AF&PA Sustainability Report click here.

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