Forest products industry releases first Sustainability Report
Member companies of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) have reduced their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 44% since 1990, more than seven times the 6% reduction called for in the Kyoto Protocol. This is one of the highlights of the FPAC's first Sustainability Report, measuring the progress of association member companies against a range of environmental, social and economic indicators.
"Since 1990, FPAC members' pulp and paper facilities have not only reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 44%, they have done so while increasing production by 20% and improving intensity per tonne of output by 54%. Our industry was also the first to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Canada committing it to even further reductions by 2010," said FPAC president and CEO Avrim Lazar.
Another highlight of the report is the success of FPAC member companies in meeting a commitment, made in January 2002, to achieving third-party sustainable forest management (SFM) certification to one of three internationally recognized standards on all the lands under their management by the end of 2006. This goal had essentially been met by the deadline.
The report adds that Canada is the only country in the world whose national trade association (FPAC) has made third-party-verified SFM certification - to Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), or Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) - a condition of membership, and that commitment has brought about a rapid growth in SFM certification in Canada. This growth is illustrated by the fact that one month before the FPAC commitment, 17 million hectares were certified in Canada. Just four years later, the number has increased sevenfold, to 124 million hectares with FPAC members responsible for 96.2 million hectares or 80% of the certified forest land.
Reporting on overall environmental performance, FPAC says its members have collectively invested over $8 billion since 1990 to deal with mill effluents and air emissions. Dioxins and furans have been eliminated from pulp and paper mill effluents, and NPEs (a class of toxic substances containing nonylphenol and its ethoxylates) virtually eliminated. Levels of AOX (total organic chlorine and other compounds) in effluents have been reduced by 90%, total suspended solids by 70%. Water consumption at mills has been cut by ten cubic metres per unit of production since 1999, a drop of 15%, notes the report.
Air quality improvements since 1999 have included a 40% reduction in particulate emissions per tonne of output, together with a 50% decline in releases of odour-causing total reduced sulfur. FPAC set up a multi-stakeholder pulp and paper air quality forum to develop a long-term air quality management strategy. As part of its contribution to the forum, the association has actively characterized the nature of emissions from its wood products facilities. The data will aid in documenting releases in subsequent editions of the Sustainability Report.
Over the past decade, says the report, the forest products has become Canada's leader in renewable energy use. This has not only contributed to maintaining the industry's competitiveness, it has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with fossil fuel use and provided a beneficial use for pulp and paper mill wastes. Since 1990, FPAC members have cut their fossil fuel consumption by 45%, to the point that almost 60% of their energy needs are met by renewable resources. These sources include mainly wood residues and other biomass, as well as through cogeneration.
Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy "has helped our members reduce costs, making them more competitive, while achieving significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions, reducing pressure on landfills and improving the air quality in the communities where our mills operate," Lazar noted.
Product recycling has increased significantly as well, as what was once considered waste has become a major source of fibre. In 2006, 49% of all paper and paper-based packaging consumed in Canada was recycled, up from 28% in 1990. FPAC members support a commitment to increase Canada's paper recovery rate to 55% by 2010.
The FPAC Sustainability Report may be viewed on the FPAC Web site, www.fpac.ca.