U.S. Paper and Wood Products Manufacturers Report Sustainability Progress

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) today released its 2020 Sustainability Report, highlighting the paper and wood products industry’s sustainability efforts, including members’ progress toward achieving the Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability goals.

“Nearly a decade ago, AF&PA members introduced a set of sustainability goals that continue to demonstrate a commitment to improving the environment and ensuring the safety of our workers. Today, we have many reasons to be proud. We have achieved many of our goals, including reducing workplace injuries, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiency in manufacturing facilities,” said AF&PA President and CEO Heidi Brock.

“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,” said Mark Sutton, CEO of International Paper and chairman of the AF&PA Board of Directors.
AF&PA member companies have been required to adhere to and report biennially on a set of Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) principles (since they were adopted in 1998) and Sustainable Procurement principles. The current report reflects members’ progress in 2018.

2020 AF&PA Sustainability Report accomplishments (based on 2018 calendar year performance, except where noted) include:

• AF&PA member companies achieved a 38.4 percent improvement in the safety incidence rate from the 2006 baseline, surpassing the 25 percent goal. There were 1.617 recordable cases per 200,000 hours worked in 2018, compared to 2.625 in 2006.

• AF&PA members adhere to sustainable fiber procurement principles, which assure that wood is sourced from suppliers who are committed to sustainable management and harvesting practices. Members procured 99 percent of the total wood fiber through a Certified Sourcing Program – a 12 percent increase from the 2005 baseline.

• AF&PA members’ purchased energy use per ton of product was 13.3 percent lower than the baseline year, surpassing the goal to improve energy efficiency by 10 percent. Member pulp and paper mills self-generated 55 percent of the electricity needed to power their mills in 2018, most of which was renewable using carbon-neutral biomass manufacturing residuals.

• Members surpassed their goal, reducing GHG emissions – measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq) per ton of product – by 23.2 percent from the 2005 baseline.

• AF&PA 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.

“This year, our industry also rose to another unexpected challenge. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic reinforced the role our industry plays in producing essential products for safe and healthy living,” Brock said. “I am heartened to see that we continue to rise to every occasion, whether it is a goal we set for ourselves or challenges we face in the global marketplace. Our members are constantly striving to reach new limits of possibility.”

The full sustainability report is available at sustainability.afandpa.org.

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