Yesterday’s release of International Paper’s 2012 Sustainability Report could indeed mark a true acceleration in the greening of the forest products industry, particularly the pulp and paper sector, which remains one of the most environmentally destructive industries on the planet…or not.
The greening of the forest products industry remains urgent. The pulp and paper industry is among the world’s largest generators of air and water pollutants, waste products, and greenhouse gases that cause climate change. It’s also one of the largest users of raw materials, including fresh water, fossil fuel derived energy, and of course wood. The forests being logged for fiber, including old-growth and other ecologically important forests are essential for clean air and water, wildlife habitat, climate protection, spirituality, and recreation.
While we acknowledge the progress and the positive roadmap set out in IP’s report, we read the report with our eyes wide open, seeing the long road still ahead not only for IP, but for the industry as a whole.
Certainly we’re pleased to see progress in IP’s energy efficiency, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, water emissions, and other toxic air emissions. We applaud them for their plans to reduce solid waste and engage their supply chain for improvement. The company’s also made progress on their social goals, including generous charitable giving and workplace safety.
On issues more near and dear to Dogwood’s forest conservation objectives, IP’s Sustainability Report provides information on fiber certification, fiber efficiency, and paper recovery improvements. Fiber efficiency and recovery are critical to achieving a more responsible industry and the company has made progress on those two areas. In addition, in 2012, IP worked with consulting foresters and woodland owners to bring on-line a large amount of newly Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified land. They have plans to bring a significant amount of additional FSC certified acreage online in 2014 as well. Finally, IP is now the largest user of FSC wood in the world. This is a big achievement from a company that was nearly at zero just a few years ago. But the company still has a long way to go to ensure the majority of its US South wood comes from well-managed FSC certified forests.
We’re proud of our with IP that has Dogwood and IP working together to map important forests around their Coastal Carolina mills, ensuring the company does not procure wood from those areas. Together we will build solutions to increase FSC certification in ecologically important areas and work on new policies to support the maintenance of hardwood forests on the landscape. We’re also proud of IP’s commitment to on-the-ground conservation measures through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) “Forestland Stewards” initiative.
All in all, IP’s 2012 Sustainability Report is encouraging, but it’s only the beginning of the greening of IP and the forest products industry story. Thanks to our activists and responsible companies demanding more sustainable paper products, we hope to enjoy many more encouraging reports in the future. And look for reports on our progress implementing our historic agreement with IP coming soon.