A good corporate sustainability policy will cover everything from how energy efficient a company is to how it sources its paper.
At Domtar, we take sustainability seriously. From sourcing our products responsibly and reducing landfill waste generated by our facilities to meeting Energy Star and LEED certifications in our headquarters, we’re conscious of how everything we do affects the environment.
But we’re not the only ones who have this commitment. Leading companies around the world are more aware of their environmental impact than ever before, which has led many executives to take a closer look at sustainability, including the roles the products they buy, like paper, play in the equation.
“It’s all part of the larger movement toward greater transparency and accountability that the public is requiring of companies now,” says Dan Persica, Domtar’s senior manager, sustainability communications. “More than just giving lip service to sustainability, having a clear sustainability policy provides companies with something they can strive for and be held accountable to.”
There are four tenets of any paper-related sustainability policy. Following these guidelines can reduce your organization’s environmental impact and protect valuable natural resources.
1. Follow the Law
A good sustainability policy will address the legal sourcing of paper. In the United States, for example, the Lacey Act makes it unlawful to “import, export, sell, acquire or purchase fish, wildlife or plants that are taken, possessed, transported or sold” in violation of state, Indian or foreign law.
All of Domtar’s pulp and paper products adhere to this and other laws governing the legality of forest products. Customers can feel confident that our all of our pulp and paper products are made from legally sourced fiber.
2. Understand Recycled Fiber
A second factor to consider including in your sustainability policy is your organization’s approach to recycled paper content. Paper made with recycled fiber helps reduce the pressure put on forests and keeps waste out of landfills.
Some organizations prefer that the paper they purchase contain a certain percentage of recycled fiber. For those customers, we offer numerous products with recycled content, including our EarthChoice® Product Line, which is available with 30 or 50 percent recycled fiber.
Keep in mind, however, that recycled paper is only part of the solution. Paper fiber can be recycled only a few times before it breaks down, which means it is important to keep new fibers coming into the system. The use of virgin paper that is responsibly sourced is, therefore, a key component of any paper sustainability policy.
3. Choose Certified Products
Speaking of responsible virgin fiber, a number of standards exist to demonstrate responsible sourcing and manufacturing.
Paper is made from a renewable resource — trees — which must be protected and properly managed. Adhering to internationally recognized, third-party certification is the most effective means of ensuring forests are responsibly managed, meaning they can continue to provide benefits like clean air and biodiversity for generations to come. Organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®), Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest CertificationTM (PEFCTM) help provide this assurance.
As you evaluate your corporate sustainability policy, commit to purchasing only sustainably produced paper products that have been certified by one of these governing bodies. At Domtar, many of our paper products are certified; simply look for the labels on the packaging.
4. Go Back to the Source
It’s important to understand your organization’s overarching goals and priorities when crafting a sustainability policy, especially as it relates to paper. In order to be effective, the policy must be realistic and, in itself, sustainable over time. The best policies include specific, time-bound targets.
An effective paper policy also should be easy to understand and implement. This includes setting up a way to track and manage paper purchases to ensure they meet the appropriate standards. There are some good online tools that can verify whether the paper you purchase is legally harvested and sustainably produced.
Take some time to evaluate your corporate sustainability policy and examine your organization’s use of paper products. Making a few simple changes could decrease your company’s environmental footprint and increase customer and employee awareness of your commitment to sustainability.
“Having a sustainability policy that includes a paper component illustrates that your organization is publicly committed to taking steps that incrementally help the environment,” Persica says.