Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 Sustainability Goals




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

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 production was 11.6 percent lower in 2016 compared to the 2005 baseline year.

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

Member Spotlight

2016 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Energy Efficiency/Greenhouse Gas Reduction

Sappi North America’s Hood Heat Recovery Project at Somerset

Sappi’s Somerset mill in Maine reduced its energy-associated footprint and costs through updates that enable the mill to capture wasted heat and use it to heat the water needed in the manufacturing process. The modifications resulted in lower operating costs, fossil fuel use, purchased electricity, waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

Paper Recovery for Recycling

Exceed 70 percent rate of paper recovery for recycling by 2020

In 2019, the recovery rate for paper consumed in the U.S. was 66.2  percent.


Member Spotlight

2016 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Paper Recovery for Recycling

Dart Container’s Employee Recycling Center

Dart Container opened a drive-through recycling facility at its Mason, Michigan headquarters where employees and their families have access to free, convenient paper recycling. Regular curbside residential recycling services in the area are uncommon, and often require payment. In its first three months, the facility recycled nearly 93,000 pounds of paper products.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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

In 2016, member GHG emissions – measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2 eq) per ton of production – were 19.9 percent lower than in 2005.

Aligns with objectives of UNSDG #13: Climate Action

Member Spotlight

2017 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Energy Efficiency/Greenhouse Gas Reduction

Resolute Forest Products’ GHG Reduction Program

Resolute adopted a series of sustainability commitments, including a goal to reduce GHG emissions from their facilities by 65 percent between 2000 and 2015. By improving the energy efficiency of their operations and increasing use of lower carbon fuels, Resolute surpassed that goal. At the end of 2016, the company had lowered GHG emissions by 73 percent compared to 2000 levels.

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


In 2016, the member company recordable incidence rate was 36.3 percent lower than in 2006.

We still have a lot of work to do before reaching and maintaining our industry vision.

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


Member Spotlight

2016 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Safety

WestRock Company’s Safety First, Safety Always Project

To achieve a higher rate of employee safety engagement, improve safety culture and morale, and reduce injuries and costs, WestRock produced the Safety First, Safety Always video as part of their 2015 safety strategy. The video includes three modules: Speak Up for Safety; Plan for Safety; and Engaged for Safety

2017 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Safety

Seaman Paper Company of Massachusetts, Inc.’s Raising the Reels for Safety

Seaman Paper improved the safety culture at their Otter River, Massachusetts mill with a simple, foolproof solution. Older paper machines like the ones at the company’s mill were designed with lower reel heights, which exposed machine operators to a safety hazard. Seaman Paper opted to retrofit their machines by adding stands to the reels, elevating the centerline of the hazard and literally moving it out of their employees’ reach.

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

The amount of wood fiber members procured from certified sourcing programs increased from 87 percent in 2005 to 99.1 percent in 2016.

Wood fiber that members sourced from third-party certified forestlands increased from 23 percent in 2005 to 29.1 percent in 2016.

Members continue their efforts to combat illegal logging by safeguarding against fiber procurement from illegally-logged sources.

Aligns with objectives of UNSDG #15: Life on Land

Member Spotlight

2017 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Sustainable Forest Management

International Paper’s Certified Forest Management LLC

International Paper created a cost-effective means for small private landowners to become FSC certified following customer demand for certified products. Through Certified Forest Management LLC, its own FSC forest management group, International Paper has directly enrolled and actively maintained FSC forest management certification for more than 200 private landowners in ten states (totaling nearly 520,000 acres) since 2012, significantly increasing certified forestlands and their certified fiber supply in the process.

Water Use

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

In 2016, AF&PA member pulp and paper mill water use per ton of product decreased by 6.6 percent from the 2005 baseline year.

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

Member Spotlight

2016 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Water

Procter & Gamble’s Water Conservation Response Project

Procter & Gamble’s Oxnard, California facility implemented five distinct projects that led the site to deliver a cumulative absolute fresh water consumption reduction of 28 percent between 2012 and 2015. Setting new site and business records for low levels of water consumption, the company proved to be an important and responsible partner in addressing California’s urgent need for good stewardship of scarce water resources.

2017 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Water

American Eagle Paper Mills’ Project Phoenix

American Eagle Paper Mills commissioned Project Phoenix to increase efficiency and reduce water use at their Tyrone, Pennsylvania mill – one of the oldest working paper mills in the United States. Infrastructure updates resulted in an 83 percent reduction in total daily river and watershed water withdrawal; a 91 percent reduction in daily water consumption; and an 18.1 percent reduction in process water effluent per ton of paper produced.