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AF&PA: The Paper Industry Is Making Huge Strides

Look around you. How much of what you use on a daily basis comes from the forest products industry? Everything from the office paper you put into your printer to the wood fiber in the RTA furniture in the office is produced by this massive, global industry.

Sometimes, the news coming out of this industry isn’t so great. (Case in point, the ugly feud between Greenpeace and APP.) But on the whole, this is an industry that is making strides. When an industry this large makes an incremental improvement, the earth feels it.

So here’s some good news.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) just released its 2010 report measuring progress by the forest products industry on key sustainability indicators.  Using the latest data available, the new report, “Sustainable Practices: a Foundation of the Forest Products Industry,”  shows that despite the severe impact made by the recession, continued investments by AF&PA member companies in more efficient processes and equipment have led to measurable progress on such sustainability indicators as recycling and air emissions.

“The challenging economic conditions that became painfully apparent in 2008 and 2009 have had impacts on performance, most notably in the area of economic performance,” wrote AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman in her introduction to the report. “However, as the report also shows, members have reacted to these challenges in proactive ways and continue to build on the strong progress already made to further improve sustainability performance for the future.”

Among the reports key findings, are:

  • In 2009, 63.4% of U.S. paper consumed was recovered – surpassing AF&PA’s 60% recovery goal three years ahead of schedule.
  • On an absolute basis, both direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions at member pulp and paper and wood products industry facilities have decreased.
  • In 2008, 65% of the energy needed to operate member pulp and paper mills was produced from renewable fuels.  At wood products facilities, renewable fuels produced 73.5% of needed energy.
  • Compared to 2006, pulp and paper mill sulfur dioxide releases decreased 14.6% and total reduced sulfur releases were reduced 18.6%.
  • Companies have continued to make investments in new processes and equipment.  Paper mill and allied product company capital expenditures were $7.6 billion in 2006 and $6.3 billion in 2008.
  • From 2002 to 2008, forest products exports grew by almost 50%, from $18.2 to $27.1 billion.

Click here to read the entire AF&PA Sustainability Report for 2010.

Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.

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