U.S. Paper and Wood Products Manufacturers Strive to Build on Industry Sustainability Progress

May 09, 2017

Harman_Donna-WebBy Donna Harman
President & CEO
March-April PaperAge

Set Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goal of 20 percent by 2020 Under Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 Initiative

U.S. paper and wood products manufacturers have long embraced sustainable business practices to keep our industry competitive, our forests strong and our environment protected. Our member companies pro-actively engage their supply chain to ensure that renewable resources used to make essential everyday products are readily available to future generations. For that, we say thank you.

Such deep commitment and forethought have returned significant sustainability achievements along the way. And we are proud to showcase those measurable results in our Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 project, launched in 2011 as one of the most extensive sets of sustainability goals for a U.S. manufacturing industry.

Our results show progress toward increasing energy efficiency, improving safety, reducing water use, broadening paper recovery for recycling and expanding sustainable forestry practices. Additionally, member companies have attained laudable greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions and set a new GHG reduction goal for the future – a result that deserves a seat in the spotlight.

In our 2016 report, we announced our members’ collective achievement of a GHG emission reduction of 16 percent, surpassing the 15 percent reduction goal ahead of schedule. Instead of stopping while ahead, our members chose to set the bar higher with a new goal of reaching 20 percent reduction by 2020, from the original baseline of 2005.

AF&PA announced the new benchmark on February 2 and will be supporting our manufacturers’ efforts  by advocating for policies that allow them to stay productive and competitive while protecting the viability of our natural resources. That’s why we took their sustainability success story on the road during a series of “Advocacy Days” at State Capitols in Maryland, Washington and Oregon. In meetings, briefings and presentation, we illustrated to policy makers that sustainability gains – and GHG emission reductions in particular – can be reached without expensive and complicated regulatory policy.

With the Printing and Graphics Association MidAtlantic, we met with legislators in Annapolis, Maryland on January 31.  In Olympia, Washington, we joined forces with the Northwest Pulp and Paper Association and the Washington Forest Protection Association on February 8 to do the same. And, on March 7, in Salem, Oregon, we collaborated with the Oregon Forest Industries Council and the Northwest Pulp and Paper Association to share our GHG reduction accomplishments to date and goal for the road ahead.

The results we presented displayed a common thread woven across the industry. Efficient production and use of large quantities of carbon-neutral biomass energy, sustainable forest management and procurement practices, wise use of water and paper recycling are among the steps that can make burdensome regulations unnecessary.

We continue to oppose overly burdensome regulations like the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. In our book, this EPA rule seeks emissions reductions that are beyond the agency’s legal authority and could increase energy costs, decrease the reliability of the electric system and set adverse precedent for potential GHG regulation of our industry. At the federal level, we also remain committed to reaching an effective legislative solution that recognizes the carbon benefits of biomass energy in forest products manufacturing facilities.

We hope that the regional and state lawmakers who are considering or implementing steps to reduce GHG emissions recognize the success of market-driven and voluntary steps to reduce them. To policy makers on Capitol Hill, we say the same.

Our sustainability story is worth sharing, over and over again, in the hopes of inspiring more manufacturers in our sector and others to follow suit. You can count on us keep telling it.