By Dan Persica, Senior Manager, Sustainability Communications, Domtar
Much of the world is under the misconception that paper is a wasteful, environmentally irresponsible product. But the opposite is true.
Forest products, like paper, come from a renewable resource – trees. The key is for the owners of those trees to manage their land responsibly, ensuring these forests remain forests for years to come. That way, the benefits they provide – cleaner air, greater biodiversity and raw material for many of the products we use every day, can continue on indefinitely.
One way forestland owners can demonstrate this responsibility is by having their lands certified.
But what is forest certification? Well, it is a way of monitoring, tracing and labeling timber, wood and pulp products using a set of agreed upon standards that preserve forests.
And why should you care? Credible certification goes beyond logging practices and protection against deforestation. It takes into account the benefits to air and water quality, social and economic issues that affect people and communities, the protection of ecology, and the potential mitigation of the effects of climate change.
Today, as consumers become more educated and savvy about how their products are produced, the demand for sustainably sourced goods is increasing. And it’s among the reasons that Domtar is working with corporate partners, non-profit agencies and environmental groups to increase the number of forests managed using certified standards through various initiatives.
Domtar’s most recent collaboration is with the Appalachian Woodlands Alliance (AWA), a multi-party effort led by the Rainforest Alliance in a 24,000-square-mile area of Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia known for the diversity of its plants and animals.
As highlighted in Domtar’s recently released 2017 Sustainability Report, Domtar has four mills operating in the U.S. Southeast for as many as 100 years. The fiber supply primarily comes from landowners with fewer than 100 acres. The cost and time commitment involved in certification often has landowners reluctant to dedicate themselves to the effort. But with Rainforest Alliance and other partners, Domtar is streamlining and easing the burden on landowners.
“We are committed to improving forest management and certification in the United States,” said Paige Goff, Domtar vice president of sustainability. “People are savvier today about where their products come from and are demanding that corporations and industries act more responsibly to protect the Earth. We hear that call and are working with our partners to keep forests growing and sustainable for the long-term.”
Domtar and the Rainforest Alliance have a long work history stretching back to 2000 when Domtar’s forestlands in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York were awarded Forest Stewardship Council®(FSC) certification via the RA’s SmartWood program. In 2005, the partners formally signed an agreement to work on responsible paper production and fiber sourcing with Rainforest Alliance publicly supporting the launch of Domtar’s EarthChoice line of socially and environmentally responsible papers. In 2007, Rainforest Alliance announced its commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative to work with Domtar on increasing use of wood from responsibly managed forests with FSC certification.
Insistence on forest certification is among the many sustainability initiatives at Domtar, which works to integrate environmentally responsible decisions in its everyday management. Among the company’s numerous achievements:
- A 53 percent reduction in recordable safety incidents since 2008
- A 33 percent reduction in landfill waste from pulp and paper mills since 2013
- More than 4,000 hours contributed by employees at company-sponsored events
- A 13 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions at pulp and paper mills since 2010
- A 5 percent reduction in water use at pulp and paper mills since 2012
For more information about Domtar’s sustainability practices and the 2017 Sustainability Report, watch this highlight video. And to learn more about the work being done to maintain healthy forests in the southern Appalachian region, watch this video from Michael Morris, fiber procurement manager for Domtar’s Kingsport Mill.