After achieving significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2013, we shifted the focus of our improvement work to energy intensity, or the total energy consumed to create a set unit of product. Analysis of our energy use employs a calculation method also used by the Department of Energy and the AF&PA. In this method, energy consumption from purchased electricity is calculated in terms of fuel inputs to account for different fuel efficiencies during power generation and efficiency losses in power transmission.
Our pulp and paper products are derived from renewable resources, made with high levels of renewable energy, and are designed to be re-used or recycled. While it is difficult to imagine a more sustainable industry than forest products, not all paper companies perform equally when it comes to operating safely and sustainably. We track our progress annually, and the following pages provide readers an updated view of our performance in important areas of environmental and social responsibility.
Sharing our sustainability performance with our customers is an integral element of our brand promise. Buyers want to know that they are working with reputable suppliers, eliminating risk from their supply chain. In addition to quality products and services, we are delivering peace of mind to pulp and paper buyers. The Sustainability Customer Council has been a longstanding branch of our sustainability governance. We have relied on the candid feedback of our Council to help us develop our goals, identify emerging issues and shape our communication platform.
How We Impact Our Communities, Customers and Employees
Our social responsibility initiatives are centered on three primary stakeholder groups: employees, local communities and customers. Our strategy for engagement continues to evolve, and we have made great progress by building on the strength of our Sustainability Ambassador program, a branch of our sustainability governance dedicated to employee and community engagement. We strive to integrate activities with our overall business objectives and find synergies that link our efforts to create a competitive advantage for Sappi.
There is a growing recognition among businesses and consumers that we must move away from a linear “take, make, waste” model of consumption where we extract materials, produce things and discard products to landfills. We are now embracing circular economy models, which by design are restorative and regenerative. Done properly, the final result is a system in which material streams are efficiently managed and recycled. The benefits of this holistic approach are clear, resulting in less waste, lower costs and reduced environmental impact.
Paper is inherently circular by nature – made with renewable resources with high levels of renewable energy and is recyclable. And Sappi takes additional measure to further reduce impact at its operations.
Ongoing public concerns about climate change, energy security and economic conditions keep energy use and greenhouse gas emissions top of mind for our key stakeholders. Energy is the third largest draw on our operating costs behind wood fiber and chemicals. As such, we hold a long-standing commitment to control energy usage. Environmental impact is affected not only by the amount of energy, but also by the type of energy consumed.
Responsible manufacturing begins with responsible procurement. For the wood products industry, it is paramount that our natural resources are used sustainably. Wood supplies the bulk of renewable energy that drives our mills, and cellulose fibers comprise the primary ingredient in our paper and pulp products, making healthy and abundant forests critical to the long-term viability of each of our core businesses.
Each year I look forward to reporting our progress against the five-year goals we set to ensure that Sappi North America continues as a thriving, sustainable, re-investable company. Whether you are an employee, customer, shareholder or a member of one of our mill communities, you should know how we are doing in terms of employee training and safety, key environmental metrics and, of course, financial returns.