Committed to Sustainability: The 2016 AF&PA Sustainability Award Winners

Jan 06, 2017
Harman_Donna-WebBy Donna Harman
President & CEO
November–December PaperAge

AF&PA’s 2016 Sustainability Awards recently honored five members for their commitment to sustainability. The annual awards program recognizes companies for projects that demonstrate AF&PA members’ continuing commitment to sustainability and achievement of our Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 goals.

AF&PA sustainability award applicants are considered in two primary categories. Projects that support the Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability goals qualify for recognition in the “Leadership in Sustainability” category. This year’s Leadership award winners distinguished themselves with projects that support the Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 goals related to paper recovery for recycling, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction, safety and water. The “Innovation in Sustainability” award is reserved for projects that merit recognition for their contribution to sustainable business practices, not one of the goals specifically.

Dart Container Corporation was recognized with the Leadership in Sustainability Award for Paper Recovery for Recycling for the Dart Employee Recycling Center, a drive-through recycling facility that Dart opened at its Mason, Michigan headquarters. In an area of the country where regular curbside residential recycling services are uncommon and often require payment, Dart is leading by example to make paper recovery for recycling free, accessible and convenient for their employees and their families. In its first three months, the facility recycled nearly 93,000 pounds of paper products.

Sappi North America received the Leadership in Sustainability Award for Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Reduction for their Hood Heat Recovery Project at Somerset. Sappi’s Somerset Mill in Maine reduced its energy-associated footprint and costs through updates that enable the mill to capture wasted heat and use it to heat water for the manufacturing process. The modifications have resulted in lower operating costs, fossil fuel use, purchased electricity, waste and greenhouse gas emissions, showing that improvements to industry infrastructure can benefit the environment as well as the bottom line.

WestRock Company was awarded the Leadership in Sustainability Award for Safety for their Safety First, Safety Always video project. To achieve a higher rate of employee safety engagement, improve safety culture and morale, and reduce injuries and costs, WestRock produced the Safety First, Safety Always video as part of their 2015 safety strategy. The video includes three modules: Speak Up for Safety; Plan for Safety; and Engaged for Safety. Together, they are a straightforward and effective tool that centers on creating actively engaged employees and a safer workplace.

Procter & Gamble (P&G) was recognized with the Leadership in Sustainability Award for Water for their Water Conservation Response project. P&G’s facility in Oxnard, California implemented five distinct projects that led the site to deliver a cumulative absolute fresh water consumption reduction of 28 percent between 2012 and 2015 and set new site and business records for low levels of water consumption, making P&G an important and responsible partner in addressing California’s urgent need for good stewardship of scarce water resources.

Georgia-Pacific LLC was awarded the Innovation in Sustainability Award for their Protecting Endangered Forests and Special Areas project. Georgia-Pacific used scientific methodology to map and rank woodlands within more than a dozen Southern states, designating 4.5 million acres as endangered forests and special areas, adding a new and innovative dimension to the industry’s efforts to promote and support sustainable forestry, which will help to ensure a healthy environment for future generations.  The company will only buy fiber from these areas in unique situations where active forest management is needed to improve habitat for endangered, rare and/or vulnerable species.

AF&PA’s 2016 Sustainability Report showed that our members have made great progress on the Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability goals, including reaching the goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve safety ahead of schedule. Projects like the ones awarded help to improve the industry’s sustainability performance and are representative of our members’ commitment to their businesses, the communities where they work and the environment. We are proud to recognize their achievements and to share them with you, in the hope that they may inspire sustainability projects elsewhere.

For more information about AF&PA’s Sustainability Awards program and Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 initiative, visit