The International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA) has released its biennial Sustainability Progress Report which demonstrates progress in seven key areas of sustainability: sustainable forest management, renewable energy, greenhouse gas and sulphur dioxide emissions, water use, health and safety, and recycling. The 2021 report also highlights the forest products sector’s global response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The environmental impact of the paper and pulp sector is illustrated in a new report.  Photo by Wikimedia. Commons

The environmental impact of the paper and pulp sector is illustrated in a new report.  Photo by Wikimedia. Commons

ICFPA serves as a forum of global dialogue, coordination, and co-operation. Currently, the ICFPA represents 18 pulp, paper, wood, and fibre-based associations that encompass 28 countries, including many of the top pulp, paper, and wood producers around the world. The 2021 ICFPA Sustainability Progress Report shows progress on nearly all of the sector’s performance indicators, using the most recent data available (2018-2019).

“In the face of the biggest health and economic crisis of our lifetimes, we are reminded that the global forestry sector has the potential to address some of our most urgent social, environmental, and economic challenges,” says ICFPA President Derek Nighbor. Nighbor is president and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada.

“Forestry workers and forest products are in the unique position to drive our move to a lower-carbon world through sustainable forest management, advancing the forest bioeconomy, and recovering more paper and paper-based packaging for recycling.”

Key progress on ICFPA’s sustainability performance indicators include:

In 2019, 52.6% of procured wood fibre came from third-party certified sustainably-managed forests, a 41% point increase from the 2000 baseline year. Greenhouse gas emission intensity decreased 21% from the 2004/2005 baseline year.

The energy share of biomass and other renewable fuels increased to 64.9%, a 12% point increase since 2004/2005. Sulphur dioxide emission intensity from on-site combustion sources decreased 77% from the 2004/2005 baseline year and 38% from the previous report.

Water use intensity decreased 12.5% from the baseline year. Investment in health and safety interventions yielded a 30% reduction in the global recordable incident rate from the 2006/2007 baseline with the number of recordable incidents falling to 2.88 per 100 employees annually.

In 2019, 59.1% of paper and paperboard consumed globally was used by mills to make new products, marking a 12.6% point increase in the global recycling rate since the year 2000.

“As a sector, both globally and locally, we continue to make a positive impact and meaningful progress in areas of sustainability, society and the economy, providing citizens with a renewable resource in the form of sustainably produced wood, cellulose and paper products,” says Jane Molony, executive director of the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) and member of the ICFPA Steering Committee. “Wood in its various forms not only meets essential daily needs, it also provides a raw material for conventional and innovative alternatives for sustainable packaging.”

The 2021 ICFPA Sustainability Progress Report also includes the 2021 International Finalists for the prestigious ICFPA Blue Sky Young Researchers and Innovation Award.

The theme for the 2020-2021 Blue Sky Awards was ‘Boosting the Forest Bioeconomy: Nature-Based Solutions Toward a Lower Carbon Economy’.

To view or download the 2021 ICFPA Sustainability Progress Report, please visit: ICFPA 2020-2021 Sustainability Progress Report.