Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 Sustainability Goals




The industry’s sustainability goals focus on improving worker safety, promoting sustainable forestry, increasing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing water use and increasing paper recovery for recycling.

Worker SafetyGoal Surpassed

A vision for the industry of zero injuries and measuring progress toward that aspirational goal by further improving our incidence rate* by 25 percent from 2006 to 2020

“Goal Zero” is more than a target. It’s a mindset. Worker safety is a top priority and AF&PA members have made continuous progress in improving worker safety while striving for the zero-injury goal.

In 2018, the member company recordable incidence rate was 38.4 percent lower than the 2006 baseline.

*OSHA Recordable Incidence Rate (# of Injuries and Illnesses x 200,000) / (Hours Worked by Employees)


Member Spotlight

2018 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Safety

Resolute Forest Products' Proactive Approach

Resolute Forest Products introduced a safety audit process focused on individual accountability. Employees are held accountable for working safely so as not to endanger their own health and safety or that of their co-workers. Individual accountability is achieved through the implementation of three components: pre-task risk analysis, proactive near-miss reports and safety committee meetings. This project led 26 of the company's operations to finish 2017 without a single recordable injury.

2019 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Safety

WestRock: Innovative Safety Shield Protects Workers

WestRock's Kraft containerboard mill in Hopewell, Virginia developed a safety shield to cover the recovery boiler ports and eliminate risk of burn injuries to boiler operators and bystanders. Mill workers made the shields in-house out of durable, lightweight aluminum and applied complementary safety controls, such as signage and a safe pedestrian walkway. The safety shields can be implemented at any Kraft paperboard or containerboard mill and are helping WestRock to achieve their company-wide goal to eliminate serious injuries and fatalities.

Sustainable Forestry

Increase the amount of fiber procured from certified forestlands or through certified fiber sourcing programs in the U.S. from 2005 to 2020 and work to decrease illegal logging

A healthy paper and wood products industry is complementary to and promotes healthy forests.

In 2018, members procured 99 percent of the total wood fiber from forests, used for product, through a Certified Fiber Sourcing Program, an increase from the 87 percent baseline set in 2005.

Wood fiber that members sourced from third-party certified forestlands increased from 23 percent in 2005 to 28.1 percent in 2018.

Members continue their efforts to combat illegal logging by safeguarding against fiber procurement from illegally-logged sources by documenting fiber sources, requiring supplier procurement agreements and using third-party certification of chain-of-custody systems.

Aligns with objectives of UNSDG #15: Life on Land

Member Spotlight

2019 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Sustainable Forest Management

Domtar Promotes Sustainable Forest Management for Landowners

Domtar addresses certification challenges for small landowners in their southern U.S. wood procurement region, ensuring a greater supply of certified fiber to their pulp and paper mills to meet growing consumer demand. As a founder and supporter of the Appalachian Woodlands Alliance, the company engages hundreds of small landowners in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia in responsible management of their woodlands. Domtar also helped 220 landowners across Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas achieve certification for 628,000 acres of woodland through the Four States Timberland Owners Association.

Energy EfficiencyGoal Surpassed

At least a 10 percent improvement in members’ purchased energy efficiency from 2005 to 2020

Member purchased energy use per ton of product was 13.3 percent lower in 2018 compared to the 2005 baseline year.

AF&PA members have continuously invested in improving the energy efficiency of manufacturing operations, upgrading press sections, drying sections, coaters and pulp digesters, to name a few. These investments played a key role in surpassing the goal.

In 2018, AF&PA member pulp and paper mills self-generated about 55 percent of the electricity needed to power their mills, most of which was renewable using carbon-neutral biomass manufacturing residuals.

Aligns with objectives of UNSDG #7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Member Spotlight

2018 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Energy Efficiency/Greenhouse Gas Reduction

Clearwater Paper Reduces Reliance on Fossil Fuels

Clearwater Paper replaced an old Kraft batch digester system at their Lewiston, Idaho pulp mill with a continuous digester that significantly reduced the mill's reliance on fossil fuels. The company saved more than 100,000 pounds per hour of steam compared to the previous batch process — an estimated reduction of 15,000 tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year. Their reduced energy needs are expected to avoid the same amount of GHG emissions per year going forward.

2019 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Energy Efficiency/Greenhouse Gas Reduction

Seaman Paper's Let There Be (LED) Light Project

Seaman Paper reduced their electricity consumption by over 1.2 million kilowatt hours per year by switching a significant portion of their lighting to LED. The lightweight papers and decorative packaging supplier used energy conservation incentives provided by their utility to replace existing lighting with LED or specify LED lighting in their converting plants and warehouses in north central Massachusetts. Cost savings from the project offset payment to the utility and are now accrued by Seaman Paper. In addition, the project improved lighting in the facilities, promoting safety.

Greenhouse Gas EmissionsGoal Surpassed

At least a 20 percent reduction of our members’ greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 to 2020

The paper and wood products industry was among the first to take voluntary action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In 2018, AF&PA members reduced GHG emissions — measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq) per ton of product — by 23.2 percent from the 2005 baseline.

Members’ success in surpassing the GHG emissions goal can be attributed to their switching to much less carbon-intensive fuels, adoption of energy efficient manufacturing methods and the continued use of carbon-neutral biomass fuel.

Aligns with objectives of UNSDG #13: Climate Action

Member Spotlight

2019 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Energy Efficiency/Greenhouse Gas Reduction

Resolute Forest Products’ GHG Reduction Program

Resolute Forest Products took concrete action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at their pulp, paper, tissue and wood products mills across the United States and Canada by improving the energy efficiency of their operations, producing renewable energy and by managing waste efficiently, as well as by reducing water and reliance on fossil fuels. These actions have allowed Resolute to reduce their absolute GHG emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 81 percent relative to 2000 levels, benefiting both the environment and their bottom line.

Water Use

A 12 percent reduction in member pulp and paper mill water use from 2005 to 2020

In 2018, AF&PA member pulp and paper mill water use per ton of product decreased by 6.9 percent from the 2005 baseline year.

Water is an essential part of the pulp and papermaking process. Therefore, water stewardship is critical. Improved technology and innovation allow water to be reused 10 times or more throughout the pulp and paper mill process before it is discharged, according to analysis from National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI).

AF&PA members made significant early progress in reducing water use, but additional progress has been challenging. For the last several years, the water use rate has remained relatively flat. However, the focus on water stewardship has resulted in greater water use reduction when those reductions are beneficial in the context of a mill’s location. Based on this approach, AF&PA members reduced their water use by 13.1 percent between 2005 and 2018.

Specifically, NCASI categorized AF&PA member mills as to whether they are located in regions designated as “water-stressed” pursuant to the World Resources Institute (WRI) Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas. Water used by each mill is multiplied by its WRI Overall Water Risk factor, which increases for more “water-stressed” regions, effectively giving more weight to reductions in water-stressed regions when calculating association-wide performance.

Aligns with objectives of UNSDG #6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Member Spotlight

2018 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Water

Domtar's Small Steps Lead to Significant Water Savings

Domtar's mill in Hawesville, Kentucky made 17 upgrades, repairs and process changes that conserved vital water resources for their operations and the mill's surrounding ecosystem. These small, relatively inexpensive projects amounted to collective water savings of nearly 2,200 gallons per minute or 3.2 million gallons per day. The mill's total water intake decreased 34 percent, contributing to cost savings to pump, treat and heat process water, boiler feed water and effluent.

2019 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Water

Green Bay Packaging Cuts Water Consumption

Green Bay Packaging's 100-percent recycled linerboard and medium mill in Green Bay, Wisconsin initiated water reuse practices, equipment investments, technology installations and chemistry changes that resulted in water efficiencies and reductions. Between 2005 and 2018, the mill achieved a 15 percent reduction in overall water use and an 18 percent reduction in water use per ton of paper production, while increasing production by 10 percent. Improving water reuse and recycling also reduced energy use and related greenhouse gas emissions and provided resource savings to the community.

Paper Recovery for Recycling

Exceed 70 percent rate of paper recovery for recycling by 2020

In 2020, the U.S. paper recycling rate was 65.7 percent.

Approximately 80 percent of all U.S. paper mills use some recycled fiber to make everything from paper-based packaging to tissue products to office paper and newspaper. Fibers can be reused 5 to 7 times to make new and innovative products.

Aligns with objectives of UNSDG #12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Member Spotlight

2018 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Paper Recovery for Recycling

WestRock Increases Recycling of Foodservice Packaging

WestRock increased consumer access to and recovery of paper-based foodservice packaging. First, the company demonstrated technical recyclability of polycoated foodservice packaging via a trial at their St. Paul, Minnesota mill. Second, their Chattanooga Recycling Facility partnered with the Foodservice Packaging Institute and the City of Chattanooga to add foodservice packaging to the residential curbside collection. Proving that foodservice packaging is recyclable prevents customers from switching to plastic alternatives and reduces the likelihood of it being subject to extended producer responsibility measures.