New environmental reporting program supports forest industry's shift to culture of sustainability
The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) has formally launched its Sustainability Initiative. The program, announced in Montreal during the annual PaperWeek conference and trade show event, reinforces the industry's commitment to sustainable stewardship of Canada's forest resource and will provide a mechanism for reporting progress on a range of environmental, economic and social indicators.
John Weaver, president and CEO of Abitibi-Consolidated and head of FPAC's sustainability committee, explained that "FPAC members will now publicly benchmark and report on their performance every two years against a range of environmental, social, and economic indicators that are litmus tests for sustainable development and global competitiveness.
"We're not going to make it easy on ourselves," he added, stating, "We welcome the challenge."
An initial reporting on the FPAC Sustainability Initiative, through a set of eight environment and forestry indicators, forms part of FPAC's 2005 Annual Review, titled simply "Transformation." The report's title not only derives from the shift to a culture of sustainability as the basis for forest management, it encompasses the industry's effort to introduce innovative new technologies and processes (many of which will yield environmental as well as economic benefits) in the face of significant market and economic challenges.
The Sustainability Initiative commits FPAC member companies-who collectively are responsible for 75% of Canada's working forests-to operate in a manner that is economically viable, environmentally responsible and socially desirable.
"This type of commitment represents a significant step for any resource industry," said FPAC president and CEO Avrim Lazar. "While the forest products industry has significantly improved its sustainability performance, it can always do better. Pursuing continual improvement is an explicit requirement of FPAC member company forest management programs and a key driver of the FPAC Sustainability Initiative."
The program builds on FPAC's decision, four years ago, to require member companies to obtain third-party certification of their Canadian forestry operations to one of three major sustainable forest management standards by the end of 2006.
Making this requirement a condition of continuing membership in FPAC was a world first, and by the end of 2005, compliance with this condition had reached 95%. The total forest area third-party certified to standards set by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) stood at 119 million hectares by the end of 2005.
Sustainable forest management certification is one of the eight indicators reported in the Sustainability Initiative section of the Annual Review; plans call for more to be added later. Other indicators include emissions of total particulate matter (PM), total reduced sulfur (TRS), energy intensity (gigaJoules per tonne of product), greenhouse gas (GHG) emission intensity (emissions per tonne of product), reductions in effluent biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and total suspended solids (TSS), biomass share (as a percentage of total energy use) and annual allowable cut.
The review notes that since 1990, Canadian pulp and paper mills have reduced their GHG emissions by 30% overall and by 46% per tonne of output, largely as a result of replacing fossil fuels with green power, including biomass and small hydro.
By 2004, biomass and small hydro accounted for 59% of the industry's total energy use, with fossil fuel making up only 19%. This proportion is expected to decline even further as biomass is increasingly used in primary production and alternatives such as bio-oil or other synfuels displace fossil fuels in secondary processes.
In addition, particulate emissions from industry operations have been cut by 62% since 1992. As part of its continuing effort to improve air quality, FPAC is leading the Pulp and Paper Air Quality Forum, a multi-stakeholder process whose purpose is to draft a ten-year action plan for reducing air emissions. Its mandate extends to co-ordinating environmental improvements with the industry's investment cycles, as well as accessing government energy efficiency and green power incentives to support an initial round of emission reductions. Thereafter, companies will have a choice of paths to follow in pursuit of further goals.
This is only one of numerous partnerships in which FPAC is participating on behalf of its member companies. The association is involved with groups such as the Canadian Boreal Initiative, the Canadian Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited Canada and World Wildlife Fund-Canada. Through the various partnerships, historic land use agreements have been reached and projects undertaken relating to healthy rivers and streams, air quality, model forests, species at risk and multi-industry collaboration on forest management.
Recycling is a integral part of resource management, and as of 2005, the industry used five million tonnes of recovered paper to make new paper, reporting a 46% recycled paper recovery rate. FPAC believes this rate could reach 55% or higher and has set an objective of sending no good paper to landfill. Virtually all paper waste, it notes, can provide recycled fibre for new products such as newsprint, boxboard or containerboard.
The "Transformation" report, with information on the Sustainability Initiative, may be requested from Isabelle Des ChÍnes at FPAC, 613/563-1441, ext 323, E-mail, email@example.com, or viewed on the FPAC Web site, www.fpac.ca. A full Sustainability Report will be published in 2007, and every two years thereafter.