The Three Pillars of Sustainability


People are at the heart of the paper and wood products industry. The health and safety of workers is a top priority in our industry. So is making a positive contribution to the lives of our employees and the communities that surround our manufacturing facilities.

Median age of a U.S. pulp and paper mill employee in 2019

AF&PA members work with colleges, universities or technical institutes to develop curricula that will produce trained graduates

AF&PA members who have either a charitable giving program or a corporate foundation to promote philanthropic activities

Occupational Safety

Occupational safety is a top priority for AF&PA members, highlighted by our aspirational goal to achieve zero workplace injuries, as healthy workers are essential for a strong industry. But safety is not just a goal AF&PA members work toward, it is a culture they embody and promote through training and investment.

AF&PA member companies provide numerous opportunities for workers to improve their health and wellness, including employee health risk assessments, health promotion programs, on-site health fairs and education on issues such as diet and weight management, high blood pressure and cholesterol, smoking cessation, stress management and substance abuse.

Award Winner

2018 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Safety

American Eagle Paper Mills’ Culture of Safety

American Eagle Paper Mills designated safety as their main area of focus for 2017. At their Tyrone, Pennsylvania mill, the company identified issues and inadequacies with their equipment guards, increased communication across all levels and empowered employees to stop individuals who are creating potential safety incidents. In January 2018, they completed 365 days without a lost-time injury — a record achievement in the history of the mill.


In 2020, the paper and wood products industry, like every other industry, was faced with unexpected challenges due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. AF&PA, along with others, worked to ensure that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security identified the forest products industry as “essential critical infrastructure workforce.” This designation demonstrated the essential nature of the industry, although no sector is immune from job losses resulting from COVID-19’s shock to the economy.

To assist members with business operations, AF&PA created a public COVID-19 webpage and organized a conference call to facilitate the sharing of information and insights on how to reduce the risks of COVID-19 in our operating mills and workplaces to keep our workers and customers safe.

In addition, AF&PA members demonstrated a generous outpouring of support for people and communities. Many members pledged financial support and donated supplies, materials and products. These efforts continue as the pandemic continues and communities and businesses begin phased reopening strategies.

Member Spotlight

Industry Rises to Serve Communities During Pandemic

AF&PA members made an overwhelming response to serve communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Procter & Gamble is one of those companies stepping up to provide much-needed product donations and financial support. P&G’s Bounty also partnered with Feeding America to provide 10 million meals to people in need and donated an additional $1 million to Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Charmin donated $2 million to Direct Relief to assist frontline workers.

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PaperWorks Industries Partners With

Joining forces with other paperboard companies, PaperWorks Industries, Inc. partnered with to create single-use, paperboard-based face shields for medical professionals and first responders. In April, PaperWorks Industries made its first donation of 7,000 fiber shield masks to the surgical team at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, Florida Learn about


DS Smith Donates Half-Million Items to Fight COVID-19

DS Smith has provided support across Europe and in the United States in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Among their efforts, DS Smith donated 24,000 boxes used to transport critical items including hospital clothing, respirators, PPE and hand sanitizer. The company also supported key workers and their families, donating 75,000 thank you packages to ‘Salute the NHS’. Read more

Professional Development

In addition to improving the health and wellness of workers, our members are dedicated to helping their employees achieve their full potential. Sixty-nine percent of AF&PA member companies offer support for continuing education and career development through reimbursement of college tuition or external programs, in-house training or sabbaticals.

In 2019, the median age of a U.S. pulp and paper mill employee was 46.4 years. To educate and train a new generation of paper manufacturers, 63 percent of AF&PA member companies offer apprenticeships or internships to college, university and technical institute students. Fifty-one percent work with colleges, universities or technical institutes to develop curricula that will produce trained graduates.

Aligns with objectives of UNSDG #4: Quality Education

Member Spotlight

Greif Leader Earns HR Honor

Greif senior vice president and chief human resources officer, Bala V Sathyanarayanan was recognized as the HR Excellence Executive of the Year by Columbus CEO magazine. Bala joined Greif in late 2018 and is focused on delivering a world-class, diverse, and engaged workforce that can execute on Greif’s vision of industrial packaging, be the best performing customer service company in the world.

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Engaging Local Communities

Paper and wood products manufacturers are often the largest employers in their communities. As a result, local economies can be highly dependent on the economic viability of these facilities. AF&PA members give back in many ways.

Sixty-nine percent of AF&PA member companies either have a charitable giving program or a corporate foundation that promotes philanthropic activities.

Member Spotlight

Sonoco Employees Step Up to Support Communities

In 2019, Sonoco employees logged over 1,000 hours of community service, volunteering for organizations from soup kitchens to the Humane Society. They also raised nearly $5,000 for Rise Against Hunger and packaged over 12,000 meals going to orphanages and schools in Burundi and Cambodia. Read more

PCA Engages with “Future Boxmakers of America”

Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) engages with local schools including a recent visit with first graders from BCLUW Community School District, which represents the towns of Beaman, Conrad, Liscomb, Union, Whitten and rural Marshalltown. During their visit to the PCA Conrad facility, each child was given a lanyard with his/her own name tag. The 28 small visitors also received boxes printed with the words “Future Boxmakers of America” that were filled with key chains, tape measures, safety glasses, earplugs and more. Read the story


Essity Uses Virtual Reality to Improve Hand Hygiene

Essity’s Tork brand launches Tork VR Clean Hands Training and Education, a solution specifically designed to make hand hygiene training more engaging and inspiring for healthcare professionals. This new and unique way of training is a result of our collaboration with world-leading hand hygiene experts at the Infection Prevention and Control Program at the University of Geneva Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland, and hospitals around the world. Read more

International Paper Aids Natural Disaster Relief Efforts

International Paper helped plant nearly 48,000 trees in 2019 through the Arbor Day Foundation’s Community Tree Recovery program — a public and private partnership aimed at distributing free trees to residents in communities affected by natural disasters. In 2019, employee volunteers distributed more than 1,000 trees to residents of Panama City, Florida, who were impacted by Hurricane Michael and more than 1,500 trees in Orange, Texas, where many of IP’s own employees were impacted by 2017’s Hurricane Harvey. Watch the story


Our industry may support entire communities as the primary employer in many rural areas.