March 29, 2011

Media Contact 

Joshua Martin, Environmental Paper Network, 828.251.8558/828.242.4238

U.S. Paper Industry Responds to Calls for Greater Responsibility, Sets New Goals

2020 Goals Are a Good Step, But Are They Enough?

Asheville, NC – Today, the trade association for the U.S. forest and paper industry announced a set of environmental and safety related goals for its members called, Better Practices, Better Planet 2020.  The Environmental Paper Network (EPN) applauds the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) for recognizing an urgent need for reducing its environmental impact and for responding to the calls for industry transformation from conservation organisations and economic trends in the marketplace. However, as a whole, the goals announced today are incomplete and the process to achieve them remains unclear.

Statement from Joshua Martin, Director of the Environmental Paper Network:  “Member organisations in the Environmental Paper Network have been working together since 2002 towards the Common Vision for the Transformation of the Paper Industry and accelerating market demand for more environmentally responsible paper products.  The U.S. paper industry has begun to respond to the conservation community’s joint call for transformation and the market demand for more responsible paper production.

“The AF&PA goals announced today include some notable first steps towards reducing the U.S. paper industry’s significant environmental impact and also the opportunity for further expansion of the effort’s scope and ambition.  EPN applauds AF&PA for seeking to increase its energy efficiency, decrease greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, and reduce OSHA recordable safety incidents.  EPN also looks forward to working together to achieve progress on the common goal of increasing paper recovery.

“However, the goals are incomplete in addressing the full scope of the industry’s massive footprint and are a missed opportunity for decisive leadership in the global marketplace and in the fight against climate change.  It is surprising that there are no specific goals or plans related to water quality or air quality. Though gains have been made since the 1970s, the industry remains a major polluter.  And these goals will mean very little for forest conservation and biodiversity in our woods if they result in merely expanding certification by the less credible Sustainable Forestry Initiative, or SFI.  The EPN calls on AF&PA and its member companies to strive for global leadership by exceeding these goals and broadening their scope as soon as possible.”

Specific examples of where the Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 initiative falls short of the comprehensive conservation Vision of the Environmental Paper Network include,

  • It is unclear what, if any, efforts will be taken to achieve these goals by AF&PA;
  • There is an absence of goals related to improving water quality through cleaner production;
  • There is a deferral of any goal setting on water consumption to an undetermined date;
  • There is an absence of goals related to air quality and reducing air pollution, beyond greenhouse gas emissions emitted from the use of fossil fuels;
  • These goals fall short of the conservation community goal of a 75% paper recovery rate by 2015;
  • These goals also do not address other critical sustainability issues such as the conversion of natural forests to plantations, spraying of chemical herbicides and pesticides or the use of genetically engineered tree species; and,
  • The forestry goal lacks a clear target and does not designate the more credible Forest Stewardship Council as the only qualifying forestry certification.  Instead it allows expanded certification of the controversial, industry-dominated, and less rigorous scheme known as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

The conservation community looks forward to the opportunity to work with AF&PA and its member companies to accelerate progress towards these and other environmental goals.

Download the Word version of this press release