U.S. Paper and Wood Products Manufacturers Show Sustainability Progress
For years, wood products have been considered less than sustainable by the public, despite the fact that proper forest management makes wood one of the most renewable and sustainable materials. Paper has been particularly singled out due to its largely disposable lifecycle. The American Forest & Paper Association, and indeed the entire pulp industry, has been listening to consumer concerns about environmental impact over the years. The industry is proud to share its sustainability goals and wants to tell the world how it plans to protect the very forests it relies on for raw materials while reducing the impact of harvesting wood.
Reaching Goals Early
The American Forest & Paper Association has a full set of environmental goals to reach by 2020, but they're ahead of schedule and are already achieving two of the six goals. For example, more than 60 percent of all paper has been recovered to allow for recycling for each of the last seven years. The recycling peaked at 66 percent in 2016 and is expected to rise above 70 percent in the future. This represents a massive amount of trash diverted out of the landfills, as well as a big reduction in a number of new trees that must be cut down. Recycled paper can't be used for every purpose, but it is surprisingly versatile, especially when blended with a percentage of virgin material.
Reducing Greenhouse Gasses
The paper and pulp industry aren't just concerned about deforestation and habitat loss. They're also looking ahead at climate change and committing to reducing their part in it. The industry set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent, and they've already surpassed it as a group by achieving a 16 percent reduction. This puts them on track to trim off a few more percentage points before the 2020 deadline.
Some of the sustainability goals are also aimed at keeping workers within the industry healthy and safe. The association set a goal for reducing accidents and improving safety by 25 percent, but the industry responded with an amazing 40 percent increase in safety. Everyone from the loggers who bring in the raw materials to the processing teams checking the quality of finished paper products is safer than ever in their chosen professions. Other successes include power generation on site with renewable resources and wastewater reuse at paper mills.
Of course, we're doing our part here at Central Kentucky Fiber Resources too. We're committed to recycling and finding new ways to reuse paper and pulp so that it has a full lifespan before going to the compost heap or landfill. If you're interested to know how we're helping change the industry for the better, contact us with your questions and we'll be happy to answer them.