Sustainability: Where We’ve Come From

Jun 21, 2016
Schwartz_Jerry-WebBy Jerry Schwartz
Senior Director, Energy & Environmental Policy

Sustainability is inherent to the pulp, paper, packaging, tissue and wood products manufacturing industry. Our products are made from renewable and recyclable resources, and our companies have a good track record of managing the natural resources in order to ensure they can continue making useful products in the future.

But beyond doing well, our industry has also always wanted to do better – and be a leader among manufacturing industries.

In 1995, AF&PA adopted our Environmental, Health & Safety Principles and required companies to subscribe to them as a condition of AF&PA membership. The principles mandate that companies take action related to environmental, health and safety matters, for example:

  • Recognize the environment, health, and safety effects of product manufacture, distribution, use and disposal
  • Monitor and report regularly
  • Improve performance through research and development
  • Train employees, and promote awareness and accountability
  • Participate constructively in the development of public policies

In 2011, AF&PA launched its Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 initiative, which includes one of the most extensive collections of quantifiable sustainability goals for a major U.S. manufacturing industry.

By 2020, the Better Practices goals aim to

  • Exceed 70 percent paper recovery for recycling
  • Improve purchased energy efficiency by at least 10 percent
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from member facilities by at least 15 percent
  • Increase the amount of fiber procured from certified forestlands or through certified fiber sourcing programs in the U.S. from 2005 to 2020 and work to decrease illegal logging
  • Improve worker safety by 25 percent, with a broader vision of zero industry injuries
  • Reduce water use in member facilities by 12 percent

Progress towards the Better Practices goals is transparently reported in AF&PA’s biennial sustainability report. Our next report will be released in July. We look forward to sharing our industry’s progress with you.