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Domtar’s Sustainability Story: Another Reason to Celebrate Our Legacy

Open book on tree stump in the forest with a seedling growing from it. As Domtar celebrates 175 years, we reflect on our sustainability story.

Domtar’s sustainability story is one more reason to celebrate in our company’s 175th year.

As we mark this significant anniversary and Earth Day, we remember our achievements in natural resource stewardship, particularly in the past 25 years.

During our history, we have made a variety of products, but Domtar’s focus for nearly half of our existence has been forest products. And we take pride in our sustainability story, one that has increasingly focused on natural resource stewardship in the 21st century.

“Sustainability means consuming what we need today without compromising the needs of future generations,” says Rob Melton, Domtar’s senior vice president for pulp and paper, commercial, who also is chair of Domtar’s cross-functional environmental, social and governance (ESG) committee.

“Using products that are renewable and recyclable go a long way toward this end. As a third-generation professional in our industry, I’m proud to work for a company that manufactures products that are sustainable and essential for society today and in the future.”

Domtar’s Sustainability Leadership

An early achievement in sustainable forestry came in 2000, when Domtar was the first forest products company in North America to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) certification of its lands.

We followed that distinction with the first FSC-certified line of general use copy paper, the EarthChoice® Office Paper product line in 2005.

“These products give confidence to customers that they are making a sustainable choice,” says Paige Goff, vice president of sustainability at Domtar.

Third-party certification has been an important part of our sustainability story and adds credibility to claims about natural resources stewardship.

In 2011, Domtar went a step further, developing an online tool to address customers’ concerns about transparency in supply chains and the environmental effects of paper manufacturing.

The Paper Trail website allowed customers to view the environmental, social and economic footprint of the products they purchased. The tool included data on water use, fiber supplies, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and renewable energy used at our facilities.

The effort won the Pulp and Paper International (PPI) 2015 Environmental Strategy of the Year Award. The site is no longer active, but similar information is available at our sustainability site.

“The Paper Trail empowered people to see the impact of their purchase in an interesting, easy-to-understand way,” Goff says. “It was a unique approach that resonated with people throughout the industry.”

Partnering with Landowners, NGOs

As we have pursued strong natural resource stewardship, we have learned that sustainability is a team sport.

It’s one thing to recognize the importance of third-party certification, Goff says, but it’s another to achieve it. Domtar saw the hurdles that small landowners faced in achieving FSC certification and found a way to help.

We are a proud partner in the Appalachian Woodlands Alliance (AWA), supporting small, private landowners in the Southeastern United States who manage healthy and productive forests.

The 2019 AF&PA Leadership in Sustainability Award for Sustainable Forest Management honored our programs that assist landowners with responsible forest management.

The AWA effort also won the 2020 Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Leadership Award for its work to expand forest certification opportunities for small landowners.

Just last year, Domtar partnered with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to establish the largest private land conservation agreement in Canadian history. A large private tract in Ontario spanning 1,450 square kilometers of boreal forest, which was managed as a wood supply to Domtar’s pulp and paper mills, will now be managed for research and conservation by the NCC. The area, formerly known as the Hearst Forest, is recognized for its extraordinary ecosystem and abundant wildlife.

Beyond the Forest and the Bag

While much of our sustainability story showcases the forest and rivers near our manufacturing sites, our products also reflect our creative ideas for resource stewardship.

In 2021, Domtar was named one of the winners of the Beyond the Bag Challenge, led by the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag — a collaboration convened by Closed Loop Partners with leading retailers, environmental partners, global design firm IDEO and others. The challenge attracted more than 450 global participants, and nine winners were announced.

Our colleagues in every area of the business embrace sustainability, adding to our continuing sustainability story. They look for innovations or efficiencies in our work and contribute to communities through our EarthChoice Ambassador programs.

Tony Casilio, environmental, health and safety manager at our Johnsonburg Mill, says, “When I think of my sustainability perspective as a husband, a parent and a team member within Domtar, it’s executing on a plan to be better tomorrow than we are today, and that means a lot to me.”

Learn more about sustainability at Domtar.