New tools and reports will help activists, companies and concerned citizens green the world’s paper industry
Early this month, Dogwood Alliance was proud to attend the Environmental Paper Network’s 2014 Fall Steering Committee meeting in Boulder, Colorado. Environmental Paper Network (EPN) began in 2002 as an unlikely alliance of organizations with very diverse approaches to a common problem — addressing the scale of the challenges and opportunities for social justice and conservation presented by the expanding forest, pulp and paper industry. It should come as no surprise that with 15 years of history working to transform the pulp and paper industry in the US South, Dogwood Alliance was one of the founding partners of the EPN, co-sponsoring the Environmental Paper Summit in California in 2002 along with many important allies. This group eventually coalesced in North America as the Environmental Paper Network, aligned around a Common Vision for transforming the pulp and paper industry.
Today, EPN is a respected, credible and influential voice on pulp and paper sustainability issues across the global supply chain and paper’s life cycle.
Dogwood counts on the EPN for its important work, including the Paper Calculator, Paper Steps and the Global Vision that we have shared with our activists as well as with dozens of leading corporations working to improve their environmental performance. These are all excellent tools that I use regularly in my work. For example, the Paper Steps gives clear guidance on how paper buyers can move away from inferior to “Environmentally Superior” paper. Behind the scenes, we also rely on our colleagues in the EPN for strategic and tactical advice, movement updates and plenty of warm comradery. Nobody loves a “paper head” like another “paper head.”
At our meeting, we plotted the 2015 EPN agenda. Among other cool projects, you can look forward to the release of important research from EPN’s Forest Carbon Counts projects setting out a scientifically based accounting of the climate impacts of harvesting and burning of forests for products and energy. This research will address a critical carbon accounting error which unfortunately is used by our own Environmental Protection Agency that sets the burning of forests for energy as zero. As the forest and paper industry is the largest user of bio-energy (burring wood waste to make pulp and paper) in the US setting out the true carbon cost of our paper and forest management decisions is critical for addressing climate change. This error is also a key component of Dogwood’s Our Forest Aren’t Fuel campaign because regulators in Europe have adopted the same faulty science which somehow classifies the burning of wood pellets made from forests here in the US South as carbon neutral.
Back from the EPN meeting, I remain impressed by the skill and commitment of the EPN community and look forward to continuing this important work in 2015.