At Domtar, we believe investing in sustainability helps enhance our world for future generations. Our success depends on the health of the forest’s ecosystem. Responsibility, efficiency and engagement are embedded in our sustainability approach, especially when it comes to keeping forests as forests.
Paige Goff, vice president of sustainability and business communications, has spent nearly 15 years sharing the Domtar story, first in brand and advertising operations for pulp and paper and, more recently, in sustainability. She manages our relationships with sustainability organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Rainforest Alliance (RA). Through our annual sustainability reporting, she also helps bolster our reputation as a leader in sustainable forestry and manufacturing.
We recently sat down with Goff to discuss the changing sustainability landscape for corporations and our sustainability approach, including our pursuit of meaningful sustainability goals, including keeping forests as forests:
How has sustainability evolved over the past 10–15 years in our industry?
It’s been interesting and exciting to see how far sustainability, as a business priority, has come in all industries, but especially for forest products.
Beyond cost savings from making operations more efficient, companies know consumers and business-to-business customers want sustainable products and services, so new markets have developed for different types of more environmentally responsible products, such as our EarthChoice® line.
Specifically for our industry, it’s been encouraging to see companies move beyond introductory certification efforts to look more closely into social sustainability, human rights, community engagement and more.
Our sustainability approach consists of three main categories: efficiency in manufacturing, responsibility in sourcing, and engagement with community and partnerships. By expanding our definition of what it means to be a sustainable company, we’re able to broaden our efforts, and it’s encouraging to see some others in the industry follow suit.
What societal changes are helping or hindering sustainability in the forest products industry?
I believe consumers are more conscious about the types of goods they’re buying. While sustainability may not be the top purchase driver, it can definitely be a strong deterrent if a company is viewed as irresponsible or unethical. Additionally, society continues to rely on third-party checks and balances to ensure responsible behavior. Partners like WWF and RA continue to educate and work with businesses, and we benefit from long and healthy relationships with them.
What has hindered us may be an unintended consequence of increased sustainability awareness. There is a simple stigma that cutting down trees is harmful, and it has been perpetuated by misinformation. Our sustainability approach is to continually educate consumers and businesses about the renewable and sustainable traits of pulp and paper and other forest products.
Many people also have an overly simple view of recycling. Part of our role is to help consumers and stakeholders understand that recycled paper products may not always be the most sustainable choice. Sustainable forestry in many cases is more environmentally prudent than trying to utilize more recycled pulp/paper content for a product that may be of lower quality.
Sustainability is a journey, and that journey is never complete. We will continue to set, evaluate and reset stronger sustainability goals across our three focus areas: efficiency, responsibility and engagement.
I’m excited that we’ve already surpassed our 2020 goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent. We reached an 18 percent reduction in 2017 (from 2010 levels). We’ll continue to evaluate and improve there, as well as in waste reduction, safety and employee engagement.
What are some key strategies for achieving that?
Ongoing monitoring, measurement and evaluation are important. We will continue to monitor our efforts and identify new goal areas. Also, we’ll make the most of our important partnerships. Our EarthChoice® Ambassador teams are a big help in regional facilities, both in coming up with creative ideas and driving community engagement. In addition, credible NGO partners such as WWF and RA offer important perspectives as we set and evaluate goals.
Check out this brief video to learn more about how responsibility, efficiency and engagement are embedded in our sustainability approach: