Sustainability Excellence: AF&PA’s 2017 Sustainability Award Winners

Jan 17, 2018

Harman_Donna-WebBy Donna Harman
President & CEO
​​Nov-Dec PaperAge


Six AF&PA company members received 2017 AF&PA Sustainability Awards for their outstanding sustainability programs. Our annual awards program honors AF&PA members for projects that contribute toward achievement of our Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 goals and exemplify the industry’s commitment to sustainability.

AF&PA sustainability award applications are judged by an external group of sustainability experts and awards are given for two primary categories. The Leadership in Sustainability category recognizes projects that support the Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability goals; the Innovation in Sustainability award is reserved for projects that merit recognition for their contribution to sustainable business practices, rather than a specific goal.

Resolute Forest Products received the Leadership in Sustainability Award for Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction for their GHG Reduction Program. Resolute adopted a series of sustainability commitments, including a goal to reduce GHG from their facilities by 65 percent between 2000 and 2015. By improving the energy efficiency of their operations and increasing use of lower carbon fuels, Resolute surpassed that goal. At the end of 2016, the company had lowered GHG emissions by 73 percent compared to 2000 levels.

International Paper’s Certified Forest Management LLC was awarded the Leadership in Sustainability Award for Sustainable Forest Management for accomplishments of its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest management group. Following customer demand for certified products, International Paper developed this cost-effective means for small private landowners to become FSC certified. Since 2012, the company directly enrolled and actively maintained certification for 210 private landowners in ten states, significantly increasing certified forestlands and their certified fiber supply in the process.

Sappi North America was recognized with a Leadership in Sustainability Award for Safety (Large Company) for their Over Two Million Hours Worked Without Lost Time Injury project. Sappi’s Cloquet, Minnesota mill implemented four unique safety programs, engaging and educating its employees on recognizing safety issues, reducing risk of injury, maintaining a safe work environment, and creating and sustaining safety standards. The programs led the mill to reach a company milestone of two million hours worked without a lost time injury – an equivalent to over 450 days without significant injury.

Seaman Paper Company’s Raising the Reels for Safety project received a Leadership in Sustainability Award for Safety (Small Company). To improve the safety culture at their Otter River, Massachusetts mill, Seaman Paper used a simple, foolproof solution. Older paper machines like the ones at the company’s mill were designed with lower reel heights, which exposed machine operators to a safety hazard. Seaman Paper opted to retrofit their machines by adding stands to the reels, elevating the centerline of the hazard and literally moving it out of their employees’ reach.

American Eagle Paper Mills was recognized with a Leadership in Sustainability Award for Water (Small Company) for Project Phoenix, which was commissioned to increase efficiency and reduce water use at American Eagle’s Tyrone, Pennsylvania, mill – one of the oldest working paper mills in the United States. Infrastructure updates resulted in an 83 percent reduction in total daily river and watershed water withdrawal; a 91 percent reduction in daily water consumption; and an 18.1 percent reduction in process water effluent per ton of paper produced.

WestRock won two awards: a Leadership in Sustainability for Water (Large Company) for their Covington Mill Power Boiler Ash Handling Systems, and the Innovation in Sustainability Award for Moving Products the Green Way.

WestRock’s Covington, Virginia mill converted its boiler ash handling system from a water-managed to a dry ash system to optimize its management of fly ash – a byproduct of burning coal in boilers for energy in the paper mill's manufacturing process. Benefits include an 8 percent reduction in daily water usage at the mill, improved water effluent quality, and increased opportunities for reuse of the fly ash.

For Moving Products the Green Way, WestRock enhanced and deployed a software tool that allows its manufacturing facilities to calculate the optimum product cargo load pattern and weight per truck, railcar or intermodal container. The tool facilitates reduction of the amount of shipments needed to provide on-time delivery of products to their customers, while saving money, avoiding fossil fuel use, and reducing GHG and other air emissions associated with their transportation footprint.

These projects are among the best examples of how the industry is working towards achieving the Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability goals and making other sustainability strides. AF&PA is proud to honor our members’ successful projects and hopes they inspire sustainability initiatives elsewhere.

To learn more about the AF&PA Sustainability Awards program and Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 initiative, visit