World's top pulp and paper producers report on sustainability measures and progress, but vary in their approaches, goals and deadlines; overall trend is improvement, with some companies leading, while some are still assessing, awaiting uniform standards

LOS ANGELES , September 25, 2013 () –

As far as sustainability measures in the paper industry go, the only consistency is a lack of consistency. No two paper companies have the same goals, deadlines and approaches, based on the latest sustainability reports.

The reports are typically complex as they include technical aspects of assessing, monitoring and reporting on such issues as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water quality and use, energy efficiency, and fiber certification, among other things.

Some companies go into great detail about their progress, but the details do not make it any easier to determine how each company ranks against their peers in the race to reduce their environmental footprints.

Sustainability is “an expansive and systemic idea that is not easily contained within one common definition” and “measuring it is even more difficult” than defining it, writes Domtar Corp. in its 2012 sustainability report.

Targets vary widely, with some companies not even setting goals but marking their achievements, while others aspire to various percentage changes with deadlines that range from one year to the year 2025, using various baseline years from which to measure.

One of the more ambitious goals seems to be that of Resolute Forest Products Inc., which aims to cut scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 65% by 2015, using 2000 as its baseline. In 2012, it achieved a 25% reduction, it reported.

Stora Enso Oyj, which has vowed to cut the intensity of its mill’s scope 1 and 2 carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 35% by the end of 2025, uses 2006 as its base year, according to its 2012 sustainability report.

Stora Enso achieved that target last year for scope 2 emissions, which are indirectly produced during generation of electricity and heat the company buys. Scope 1 emissions are generated directly by the company’s own facilities.

In 2012, Sappi Europe cut its CO2 emissions by 11.4%, exceeding its goal to reduce its direct fossil fuel CO2 emissions by 5% by 2017. The company plans a further 1% reduction in 2013, the company reported.

Oji Paper Co. Ltd. is another overachiever, surpassing its target of a 15% cut in GHG emission by 2015 compared with baseline year 1990, with a 21.1% reduction in 2012, according to the company’s sustainability report.

Good progress reported. Among those companies also making good progress in achieving their GHG emissions goals are Metsa Group, International Paper Co. (IP), Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SCA) and Norske Skogindustrier ASA.

IP reduced its GHG emissions in 2012 by 10% and attributes this partially to lowering its energy needs, thereby burning less coal and oil.

Last year, IP approved 66 energy-efficiency projects to cut GHG emissions by 270,000 tonnes/year. It also spent US$53 million for various capital projects to improve energy efficiency at its facilities and to reduce associated emissions.

The company noted in its 2012 sustainability report that the facilities it acquired from Temple-Inland Inc. would give it more opportunities to apply energy efficiency best practices.

Suzano Papel e Celulose SA reported that its GHG emissions were up in 2010 compared with 2009, according to its latest sustainability report.

Holmen AB did not include GHG emissions in its report.

Some companies do not give percentage achievements. MeadWestvaco Corp., for instance, noted its air emissions level for pulp and paper mills in 2012 but did not include progress in reaching its goal to cut CO2 emissions 25% by 2015 versus 2010.

Domtar stated in its 2012 sustainability report that it cut certain GHG emissions, while its total reduced sulfites (TRS) level was up. It aims to reduce GHG emissions at its pulp and paper mills 8% by 2020 compared to 2010.

UPM-Kymmene Oyj reported only that it made improvements in 2012 GHG emissions but “not in line with target,” which calls for a 15% reduction by 2020 compared to levels in 2008, its baseline year.

Rather than setting a goal for GHG emissions, Fibria Celulose SA wants to double CO2 absorption from the atmosphere by 2025 and continues to monitor the situation. It stated that in 2012 it had a 1% reduction in CO2 emissions.

Goals are not always established, nor are key elements of sustainability always included in sustainability reports, as the world’s top paper companies work to improve their environmental footprint.

Fibria noted in its sustainability report that it was working this year to develop indicators to help it “manage, account for and measure our progress.” “Pre-defined indicators” were to be used to monitor progress in 2013.

Lack of standardized reporting. A lack of standardized reporting for sustainability is of concern, according to some pulp and paper producers.

For calculating total water consumption levels for companies or specific products, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is working to develop such a standard, focusing on a life cycle approach, noted Stora Enso in its report.

Norske Skog intends to implement its water footprint reporting only after international standards have been established, the company stated in its 2012 sustainability report.

The company noted that a sustainability assessment is needed that will take into account many indicators to understand what water footprint is required for various operations.

Holmen Paper has opted to base its sustainability reporting on the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) sustainability reporting guidelines, and it has participated in the United Nations’ Global Compact since 2007.

GRI’s guidelines allow companies to report their sustainability information in a way similar to financial reporting, according to its website. GRI is a non-profit organization based in Amsterdam.

While it actively promotes its sustainability achievements, Domtar questions “whether it is actually possible to draw meaningful sustainability comparisons amongst so much dissimilarity.”

Among the sustainability improvements paper companies are seeking to achieve in their operations other than energy efficiency are such things as reduced water use, lower pollution in effluent, and higher use of certified fiber.

IP made a sharp improvement in the level of its water effluent in 2012, with a 27% reduction in discharges, while many other major paper producers had lower or less clear accomplishments in this category.

In fossil fuel energy use, Nippon Paper had a 35.7% reduction in its fiscal year 2011 compared with fiscal year 1990. Earlier, it had targeted trimming fossil energy use 30% in 2015 from fiscal year 1990.

Different approaches employed. Stora Enso began last year to approach energy efficiency in a different way with a new software tool to cut energy use at its mills. The tool is mostly for electricity, steam and heat exchangers, but it could also be applied to water use.

The tool was piloted at Stora Enso’s Sachsen mill in Germany in 2012 and will be installed at other mills if the pilot test has favorable results, the company noted in its sustainability report.

Many other top papermakers touted their use of renewable energy. Domtar noted that its renewable energy use is at 76.3% of its overall energy consumption. The next highest level appears to be that of MeadWestvaco, at 70%.

UPM calls itself The Biofore Company and describes itself as a leader in integrating "bio and forest industries into a new, sustainable and innovation-driven future." One of its three divisions is focused on energy and pulp.

However, the issue in which paper companies seem to be making the most progress as a group appears to be in fiber certification. Nearly all the companies tracked had made commendable headway in the period they reported most recently.

Many also had achieved a high level of certified fiber usage. At the top was SCA, which in 2012 was using only fiber from responsible sources, thereby reaching its goal to entirely eliminate fiber coming from controversial sources.

Other high levels of certified fiber use were achieved by Metsa Group, at 82%; Norske Skog, at 76%; Stora Enso, at 74%; Sappi Fine Paper Europe, at 73.1%; Oji Paper, at 60%, and Resolute, at 51%.

Domtar’s use of certified wood received in 2012 was just 31.2%, which was up from 28% in 2010 but down from 32% in 2011. The company aims to procure 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wood by 2020.

UPM already has reached a certified fiber procurement level of 85% and aims to maintain that. IP increased its certified fiber share by 18% in 2012, exceeding its goal to boost it by 15% by 2020.

Sustainability goals not all equal. Achieving goals is more challenging in some areas than others, according to IP. The company is relatively confident it will reach its targets for GHG emissions cuts but not as confident about other goals.

Among these questionable goals are those relating to IP’s supply chain, which has 100,00 global suppliers, IP stated in its 2012 sustainability report.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) in the U.S. has reported that the industry is making strong progress on sustainability, achieving a 65.1% recycling rate for all the paper consumed in the U.S. in 2012.

In addition, the intensity for GHG emissions was 10.5% lower among AF&PA member companies in 2012 versus 2005, among other achievements, the association reported in the first update on its Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 goals.

AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman went so far as to say that the industry had “significantly raised the bar for defining sustainable manufacturing.”

AF&PA committed to a reduction in the industry’s GHG emissions by at least 15% and to improve the industry’s energy efficiency in purchased energy use by at least 10%, both by 2020.

Sappi in Europe noted that its performance of a 53% reduction in its GHG emissions over a 2007 baseline was already ahead of AF&PA’s target.

Whatever the goals, it’s clear that progress continues and that it is driven not only by increased public awareness and customer demand but also by a realization that sustainability can be a wise business strategy.

“Growing public concern about greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their effect on the world’s climate is leading more customers to ask for information on Resolute’s GHG emissions,” noted Resolute in its 2012 sustainability report.

MeadWestvaco indicated that its strategy is to use less energy, water and raw materials to accomplish its “aspirations” of building “a stronger business through balanced choices.”

As SCA succinctly summed it up in its sustainability report, “More efficient production provides lower costs and in most cases positive environmental effects.” 

Also aiming for a positive result, Fibria intends to stay flexible, with sustainability targets that are “neither exhaustive nor static, and may evolve or encompass new commitments to satisfy the demands of the market, the company or society.”

Sustainability progress of major pulp and paper companies worldwide, 2010-2012


GHG emissions Goal

GHG emissions Progress

Energy efficiency Goal

Energy efficiency Progress

Water use, quality

Water use, quality Progress

Fiber certification Goal

Fiber certification Progress

International Paper Co. (1)

20% cut in scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 2020

10% cut in one-site fossil fuel GHG emissions in 2010

15% improvement by 2020

2% improvement in 2012

15% cut in BOD, COD discharges from mills by 2020

27% reduction achieved in 2012

15% increase in use of certified fiber by 2020

18% increase achieved in 2012


Stora Enso Oyj

Cut CO2 intensity at mills 35% by end of 2025 vs 2006

2012 emissions cut for scope 2, 35%; for scope 1, 18%, both vs 2008

15% cut in energy use by 2020 vs 2010

No change in 2012

10% lower mill discharges by end of 2013 vs 2005

7.5% reduction in 2012 vs 2005

Reach 70% certified fiber usage by 2012

Reached 74% in 2012

Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget

Cut CO2 emissions 20% by 2020

Cut 10.4% in relation to production level

14% cut in energy use per ton of product by 2020 vs 2005

1.7% reduction in 2012 vs 2005

Aims to use biological and mechanical treatment plants at all its mills by 2015

39 of its 40 mills had such systems as of year-end 2012

Eliminate use of fiber from controversial sources

100% of fiber used is from responsible sources

UPM-Kymmene Oyj (2)

Cut CO2 15% by 2020

Small improvement in 2012 but “not in line with target”


Electricity use in paper production down 20% over past 10 years

Cut wastewater volume 15% by 2020

Small improvement in 2012 but “not in line with target”

Maintain level of certified fiber at 85%

Develop certified fiber share in line with target


Oji Paper Co. Ltd.

Cut GHG emissions 15% by 2015 vs fiscal year 1990

35.7% reduction in fiscal year 2011

Cut energy use at least by 1.5%/year

Continue to work to cut fossil fuel use



100% certified fiber

60% certified fiber

Nippon Paper Industries Co.

Cut CO2 emissions from fossil energy by 25% in 2015 vs fiscal year 1990

30% reduction in fiscal year 2011 vs fiscal year 1990

Cut fossil energy use by 30% in 2015 vs fiscal year 1990

35.7% reduction in fiscal year 2011 vs fiscal year 1990

Cut water use in production

Taking steps to conserve water

Boost procurement of sustainable forest products

Working with FSC, PEFC

Metsa Group

Cut CO2 fossil fuel emissions 30% per tonne of production by 2020 vs 2009

27% improvement in 2012 vs 2009

Improve energy efficiency 10% by 2020 vs 2009

4% improvement in 2012 vs 2009

Ongoing search for ways to minimize water use, reuse

Cut wastewater volume, with drops in phosphorus and nitrogen

Maintain level of at least 80% certified, traceable procurement

82% level of certified and traceable procurement




MeadWestvaco Corp.

Cut CO2 emissions 25% by 2015 vs 2010

CO emissions higher in 2010 than in 2006

Cut use of fossil fuels 25% by 2015 vs 2010

70% of energy use is renewable, cut fossil fuel use 10% in 2011

Cut water use 15% per ton of paperboard by 2015 vs 2010

BOD level in water up in 2010 vs 2006

100% of fiber from responsible sources, 50% from certified sources by 2020 (3)



Sappi Fine Paper Europe (4)

Cut specific fossil fuel CO2 emissions 5% by 2017, 1% in 2013 (3)

Down 11.4% in 2012

Ongoing improvement in energy efficiency, boost use of green energy

50.3% use of green energy globally, improvement at European mills

Cut specific water use 5% by 2017, 1% in 2013

Down 8.5% in 2012

Maintain high level of certified fiber to mills

73.1% fiber was PEFC-, FSC-certified in 2012

Domtar Corp.

Cut GHG emissions at pulp and paper mills 8% by 2020 vs 2010

2012 improvements in NOx, SO2, but TRS up


Increased renewable energy to 76.3% of total used


Cut BOD, AOX and TSS in 2012

Procure 100% FSC-certified wood, 25% increase in FSC fiber use by 2020 vs 2010

31.2% certified wood received, up from 28% in 2010 but down from 32% in 2011

Resolute Forest Products Inc.

Cut scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 65% by 2015 vs 2000, begin full-scope reporting by 2015

Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions cut 25% in 2012 vs 2000, cut 65% in absolute terms when capacity cuts are taken into account

Ongoing system to manage energy at mill level

Renewable energy was 65% of total energy used in 2012

Gained better understanding, reports to Carbon Disclosure Project

Not started, evaluating water footprint and reporting to CDP

Raise FSC certification of managed forests to 80% by 2015 from 18% in 2010

In progress; 51% FSC-certified as of June 2012

Fibria Celulose SA

Ongoing monitoring, double CO2 absorption from atmosphere by 2025

3% cut in CO2 direct emissions, 1% cut in total emissions in 2012




Identified water footprint for forest base at some sites

Various in 2012, 2013 involving forest resource, restoration, etc.

Began restoration work, case study developed, etc.

Norske Skogindustrier ASA

25% cut in GHG emissions by 2020 vs 2006

18% lower in 2011 vs 2006


Already large producer of bioenergy

Will implement water footprint reporting when international standard is set

Cut discharges of organic material by 4%, suspending matter by 11%, nitrogen by 5%

Reach 100% certified fiber

Reached 76% in 2011, which was the same as in 2020

n.a. - Not available.
Emissions: Scope 1 include emissions generated directly by company's own facilities; Scope 2 include indirect emissions produced during generation of electricity and heat purchased for operation.
BOD = biochemical oxygen demand; AOX = adsorbable organic halogens; TSS = total suspended solids; TRS = total reduced sulfides; Nox = nitrogen oxides.
FSC = Forest Stewardship Council; PEFC = Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.
1. Baseline year for all targets is 2010.
2. Baseline year for all targets is 2008.
3. No baseline year cited.
4. Sappi Ltd. breaks out its sustainability goals and progress into three separate regions, Europe, North America and Southern Africa. This table only includes Europe.

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