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2016 AF&PA Sustainability Award Winner

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) presented its 2016 Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 Sustainability Awards at AF&PA’s annual meeting on Friday, Nov. 11 in Cary, NC. Five AF&PA member companies received awards from 23 outstanding submissions across the industry.

“Our members’ efforts to improve the sustainability of their operations aid progress toward the Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 goals and keep our industry at the forefront of sustainable manufacturing,” said AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman. “We applaud the ingenuity and commitment of these award-winning initiatives.”

The 2016 Sustainability Award Winners:

Leadership in Sustainability – Paper Recovery for Recycling

Dart Container Corporation: Dart Container Employee Recycling Center

“Dart Container is leading by example with its Employee Recycling Center, which has made paper recovery for recycling easier and more accessible for employees and their families,” notes Harman. A drive-through recycling facility at Dart Container’s Mason, MI headquarters gives employees access to free, convenient paper recycling. Regular curbside residential recycling services in the area are uncommon, and often require payment. In its first three months, the facility recycled nearly 93,000 pounds of paper products.

“Thank you to AF&PA for recognizing our Employee Recycling Center,” said Dart Container President James D. Lammers upon accepting the award. “At Dart, we are committed to providing our employees with opportunities to act on the sustainability principles we champion.”

Leadership in Sustainability – Energy Efficiency/Greenhouse Gas Reduction

Sappi North America: Hood Heat Recovery Project at Somerset

Sappi’s Somerset, ME mill reduced its energy-associated footprint and costs through updates that enable the mill to capture wasted heat and use it to heat water for the manufacturing process. The modifications have resulted in lower operating costs, fossil fuel use, purchased electricity, waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Sappi’s Hood Heat Recovery Project at Somerset is a shining example of how improvements to industry infrastructure can benefit the environment as well as the bottom line,” says Harman. At the awards ceremony, Sappi North America President & CEO Mark Gardner commented, “Reducing energy allows us to maintain a cost-competitive position, which in turn helps us to reinvest in our operations, creating a positive multiplier effect within the local community, while helping the environment.”

Leadership in Sustainability – Safety

WestRock Company: Safety First, Safety Always

To support a higher rate of employee safety engagement, improve safety culture and morale, and reduce injuries and costs, WestRock produced the Safety First, Safety Always video as part of its 2015 safety strategy. The video includes three modules: Speak Up for Safety, Plan for Safety, and Engaged for Safety.

Says Harman, “WestRock’s Safety First, Safety Always video is a straightforward and effective tool that centers on creating actively engaged employees and a safer workplace.” WestRock CEO Steve Voorhees called the video a “key element” of the company’s safety strategy, adding “Our Safety First, Safety Always video helps employees to rally behind key concepts that, if implemented properly, lead to improved safety performance.”

Leadership in Sustainability – Water

Procter & Gamble: Water Conservation Response

For its Water Conservation Response, P&G’s facility in Oxnard, CA implemented five distinct projects that led to a cumulative absolute fresh water consumption reduction of 28 percent at the site between 2012 and 2015. This set new site and business records for low levels of water consumption.

“P&G’s Water Conservation Response project proved them to be an important and responsible partner in addressing California’s urgent need for good stewardship of scarce water resources,” says Harman.

Innovation in Sustainability

Georgia-Pacific: Protecting Endangered Forests and Special Areas

Harman calls G-P’s Protecting Endangered Forests and Special Areas project “a new and innovative dimension” to the industry’s sustainable forestry efforts. The company used scientific methodology to map and rank woodlands within more than a dozen Southern states, identifying 4.5 million acres that met the criteria as endangered forests and special areas. G-P will only buy fiber from these areas in unique situations where active forest management is needed to improve habitat for endangered, rare and/or vulnerable species.

“We’re honored to be recognized by AF&PA with the Innovation in Sustainability Award,” said Georgia-Pacific CEO and President Jim Hannan. “The sustainability of our forests is critical for our long-term success. Protecting endangered forests and special areas helps us achieve that and has broad societal benefits as well.”

AF&PA’s annual awards recognize outstanding sustainability programs in the paper and wood products manufacturing industry. Projects that support progress toward the Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability goals qualify for recognition in the “Leadership” category, which has five subcategories that correspond to the goals: Paper Recovery for Recycling, Energy Efficiency/Greenhouse Gas Reduction, Sustainable Forest Management, Safety, and Water. The “Innovation in Sustainability” award is reserved for projects that merit recognition for their contribution to sustainable business practices, not one of the goals specifically.

AF&PA’s 2016 Sustainability Report showed that the U.S. pulp, paper, packaging, tissue and wood products manufacturing industry has made significant, measurable progress toward achieving its Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability goals. For more information, visit

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