WASHINGTON – The U.S. wood and paper industries are continuing to make strides to be better environmental stewards of the planet, according to the 2014 Sustainability Report just released by the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA).

The AF&PA said the 32-page report captures significant measurable progress that the wood products, pulp, paper and packaging industries are making toward achieving Better Practices Better Planet 2020 sustainable goals across the value chain. Sustainability goals covered in the report include increasing paper recovery for recycling, improving energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting sustainable forestry practices, improving worker safety, and reducing water use.

Among the progress report's highlights:

   • Paper recovery for recycling reached 63.5% in 2013; the Better Practices Better Planet goal is to achieve 70% recycled paper recovery by 2020.

   • Two thirds of AF&PA members' energy use comes from carbon-neutral biomass, helping forest products companies to reduce the amount of energy they purchased by 8.8% since 2005. The 2020 goal is to reduce purchased energy by at least 10%.

   • Green house gas emissions from wood and paper plants has declined 14.5% since 2005 putting industry well within reach of its goal to reduce green house gas emissions by at least 15% by 2020.

   • AF&PA members' procurement of wood fiber from certified forestlands reached 29% last year. Procurement of wood fiber through certified programs reached 95%.

   • AF&PA members are committed to making their operations safer and have a set goal of reducing the incidence rate of workplace injuries by 25% between 2006 and 2020. The incidence rate reported by members reflects a 24% improvement so far.

“We are proud to represent member companies who deliver on their sustainability commitments when manufacturing reusable and recyclable products that people across the country and around the world rely on every day,” said AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman.

John Williams, president and CEO of Domtar and chairman of the AF&PA Board of Directors, said, “Through sustainable business practices, we are able to guarantee that both our industry’s products and the renewable resources used to make them will be plentiful, enabling them to improve quality of life for this generation and those to come.

Download PDF of AF&PA 2014 Sustainability Report

AF&PA Praises Supreme Court for Nixing EPA's Greenhouse Gas Rule
The AF&PA released its 2014 Sustainability Report less than one month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must revise its rule regulating stationary source greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the Clean Air Act.

“AF&PA was concerned that EPA’s approach did not adequately reflect the realities facing U.S. paper and wood products manufacturers,” Harman said. “We operate in highly competitive global markets, and adding to the cumulative regulatory burden our industry already faces harms our ability to invest in forward-looking technologies for new, innovative, high-value products.”

The Supreme Court's ruling forced EPA to back to the drawing board on its GHG Tailoring Rule it issued in 2010. While the GHG Tailoring Rule exempted smaller sources of CO2, including churches and small businesses, it included thousands of new and modified industrial and commercial facilities that potentially faced lengthy delays to secure pre-construction permitting. 

The AF&PA also was concerned that the GHG Tailoring Rule did treat C02 emissions from biomass the same as from fossil fuels. This could change, however, as the EPA begain working in 2011 on a report, "Accounting Framework for Biogenic CO2 Emissions from Stationary Sources.” Once finalized, AF&PA said the framework will clarify what biomass qualifies as carbon neutral and will inform subsequent permit issuance under the Clean Air Act.

“We are anxious for this framework to be completed, as the paper and wood products manufacturing industries produce, on average, about two-thirds of our energy from biomass,” said Harman. “We believe the science supports recognition of the inherent carbon neutrality of manufacturing residuals for their GHG-reduction benefits and of biomass in general when growth exceeds harvest, and we hope that EPA will agree.”

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