Evergreen Packaging Partners to Launch the Smallholder Access Program

Evergreen Packaging Partners with The Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council, and a Consortium of Forward-minded Forestry Corporations to Launch the Smallholder Access Program. Project is designed to protect forests and increase forest certification for smaller woodlands.

Evergreen Packaging®, a global leader in plant-based packaging solutions, is proud to be a founding participant in the Smallholder Access Program (SAP) led by The Rainforest Alliance and the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®-C016043). FSC, supports ecologically responsible, socially conscious forest management, and has worked to transform forestry practices globally for nearly 30 years through rigorous, science-based standards and a third-party certification system. Building off this experience, the Smallholder Access Program (SAP) is a two-year FSC pilot project designed to increase access to forest certification for woodland owners under 250 acres (100 hectares).

The SAP will be available to landowners across Southern and Central Appalachia, encompassing parts of Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Nearly 60 percent of the forestland in this region is privately owned, representing a critical resource for the forest products industry. But for many landowners who harvest timber from their property once every 40-60 years and rely on natural forest regeneration in the interim, the value of certification rarely justifies the costs and long-term commitment required. As a result, this landowner segment has historically persisted outside of forest certification programs, and the influence that they have on forest management decisions. For forest products companies in the region, this represents a missing and critical potential resource of FSC-certified fiber.

“At Evergreen Packaging, we have been long-time advocates of responsible forestry, and participation in this important initiative is a natural step for us,” said Derric Brown, Director of Sustainability for Evergreen Packaging. “Promoting responsible forestry is a core part of our company values because it supports healthy forests and a sustainable wood supply. It also allows us to serve as a responsible sourcing partner for our customers, offering supply chain assurance to brands and meeting consumer needs for sustainable packaging.”

“Evergreen’s participation in the Smallholder Access Program has been essential,” said Andrew Goldberg, SAP program manager at Rainforest Alliance. “Their long experience working with landowners across the region was key to the development of the SAP. As the program gets up and running, we’ll keep working together to successfully engage landowners in the pilot across the region.”

The paper packaging and paper products produced by Evergreen are made with paper using trees from US forests where:
•Responsible forest practices are used
•Overall rate of growth exceeds removal
•Environmental impacts are minimized
•Worker safety is a priority

According to consumer research in the annual EcoFocus Trend Study examining how consumer attitudes, actions, preferences, and values are reshaping grocery purchasing decisions, the issues of responsible forestry and renewable materials resonate strongly with today’s consumers.

According to the 2019 survey, 67% of grocery shoppers say that it is an important priority to support sustainable forestry. 65% say that by choosing paper packaging, they feel they help to support sustainable forestry. As they are making changes due to packaging, grocery shoppers say company commitments to only using responsible packaging are extremely or very influential to their choices. “Only using packaging that is made with renewable materials” is extremely or very influential to 67% of grocery shoppers. “Only using packaging that is plant-based” is extremely or very influential to 60% of grocery shoppers.

“With the widespread focus of consumers on sustainable packaging and product traceability, we feel that our participation in the Smallholder Access Program accomplishes two important goals,” added Brown. “First, it supports our long-term goal of promoting responsible forestry. Secondly, although we have offered paper products produced from certified wood for a number of years, our partnership with AWA gives us expanded capability to meet rising customer and consumer demand.”

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