- I have participated in starting up Two Sides U.S., Inc. which is taking up much of my time these days. For more go to www.twosides.us
- Two Sides also has it's own blog here: http://twosidesus.wordpress.com/
- I have been writing technical material for some clients. For an example of that please go to: http://www.na.sappi.com/eQ/insights.html
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Over the past few years things have been busy:
A number of my other contributions can be found below.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Many corporate paper buyers have developed environmental policies or guidelines for paper procurement which typically involve evaluating the environmental performance and social responsibility of their paper suppliers, or the environmental footprint of the paper grades they purchase. The most commonly used product declarations and scorecards appear to be the following:
Ø Environmental Paper Assessment Tool (EPAT) (1)
Ø Paper Profile (2)
Ø WWF – Check your Paper (3)
Ø PREPS – Publishers Database for Responsible Environmental Paper Sourcing (4)
Based on several discussions over the years and recent interviews, it is clear that none of these voluntary systems are dominating the global marketplace, and none of them are recognized as an industry standard. Many companies still develop their own environmental and social responsibility surveys to gather the information required from paper suppliers.
A look at the history of these tools and some of their pros and cons may shed more light on opportunities for improvement. For additional information on this topic, publications by WBCSD (5) and NCASI (6) are recommended.
Environmental Paper Assessment Tool (EPAT)
EPAT was developed by a non-profit sustainability organization (GreenBlue), in collaboration with several North American paper buyers and suppliers. EPAT is based on the following seven desired outcomes for environmentally preferable paper:
1. Efficient use and conservation of raw materials
2. Minimization of waste
3. Conservation of natural systems
4. Clean production
5. Community and human well-being
6. Credible verification and reporting
7. Economic viability
Each one of these outcomes is measured by a series of associated performance indicators that include supply chain information. EPAT is a web-based tool (https://www.epat.org) for member companies only. Suppliers can enter data online and then give specific buyers access to the data. Tom Pollock from GreenBlue explained that “EPAT reports on 20 key performance indicators across the life cycle of paper products and is designed specifically to not have emphasis on any single indicator. Because it is data-driven, EPAT relies on specific mill data and up-to-date industry benchmarking information to generate results. Companies can weight indicators according to their goals and purchasing realities, but there are also default weight sets for certain paper types, which some companies choose to utilize as a guide to create their weight sets.” EPAT is currently the most comprehensive of all the scorecards and declarations in its coverage of environmental and social responsibility indicators.
Most major pulp and paper producers in North America are signed up to EPAT, as well as several large corporate paper buyers such as Time Inc., J.C. Penney, Hearst Corporation, Bank of America, REI, Best Buy, Sears, Staples Inc., Starbucks Coffee Company, Transcontinental, FedEx Office, and Best Buy. Laura Thompson, Director of Technical Marketing and Sustainable Development at Sappi Fine Paper North America explains: “The various scorecards are good informational tools but none of them capture the whole life cycle of paper. Sappi currently supports the EPAT tool because we believe it is the most comprehensive resource available. Furthermore, EPAT does not build in a bias toward recycled fiber usage or FSC-only certification but rather it acknowledges all of the major forestry certification programs. That said, customer inquiries and custom-made surveys are still the most common method of reporting our data to customers.”
The use of EPAT by J.C. Penney illustrates how scorecards can influence purchasing decisions. Kim Nagele, Senior Buyer for J.C. Penney, states: “We like the EPAT because it is fact based. We have participated in the program since its early days and have done internal studies to become familiar with the scorecard and also decide how to weigh the various indicators. We use a weight set based on a balanced approach that focuses on measured performance indicators instead of giving preference to certain fiber types. EPAT scores now make up a fixed percentage of our total paper purchasing scorecard. So, good environmental performance can definitely pay off for our suppliers.”
· Thorough in its coverage of indicators and categories.
· Mostly data driven.
· Used by several large corporations in North America.
· Weighting can be changed by the user and this influences scores.
· There are some subjective indicators that can influence scoring.
· Requires training related to its use and the environmental aspects of the paper supply chain.
· Its use is restricted to North America.
Paper Profile is a voluntary product declaration that covers relevant environmental aspects related to pulp and paper production including product composition and emissions, wood procurement and environmental management as average data within a specific reporting period. It was developed by European paper producers and current participating companies are Arctic Paper, Burgo Group, Clairefontaine, Grycksbo Paper, Holmen Paper, International Paper, LECTA, Lenzing Papier, Mondi AG, M-real, Myllykoski, Norske Skog, Papierfabrik Scheufelen, Portucel Soporcel, Sappi, SCA Forest Products, Stora Enso, UPM and VIDA Paper.
Paper producing companies can apply for membership with Paper Profile and there are some costs. Collecting and compiling the information for the Paper Profile is based on standardized calculation guidelines that are based on life-cycle inventory. For example, reported environmental loading always includes loading from purchased pulp, in addition to mill site loading. The paper profile only reports data and does not provide any system for ranking or scoring suppliers. For more see: http://www.paperprofile.com/index.html
“In Europe, the Paper Profile is popular and is used by many pulp and paper companies” says Sami Lundgren, Director of Environmental Services at UPM-Kymmene. He adds “UPM is currently using the WWF Check Your Paper tool, EPAT and Paper Profile to satisfy customer demands. But the Paper Profile is the one we have used most widely over the past decade. In 2008, UPM was the first company to add a Carbon Profile (showing a paper grades carbon footprint) to the environmental information package available to customers. Recently, we have created a similar environmental information package for the pulp we sell to the market.”
· Factual, only based on measured indicators.
· Includes environmental loading from purchased pulp – an important element in the footprint of paper.
· Can be expanded by suppliers to include other data (ex: carbon footprint).
· Some key indicators are missing such as water use or effluent flow.
· Requires technical understanding of the indicators presented.
· Data calculations (i.e. LCI) are time-consuming.
· Used mainly by European producers.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – Check Your Paper
Check Your Paper (CYP) is an updated version of the previously launched WWF Paper Scorecard and it is presented as an on-line paper rating scheme where paper producers, merchants and other distributors can input data, and pulp and paper buyers can search for products in the following categories: uncoated, coated, newsprint, tissue, packaging, specialty and pulp. The database is open and transparent to the public and can be accessed at http://checkyourpaper.panda.org/
CYP focuses on a limited number of major impacts including: 1) forest impacts through wood harvesting, 2) greenhouse gas emissions, 3) water pollutants, and 4) wastes. Each impact is allocated a maximum of either 10 or 20 points, adding up to a maximum potential 100 points. The total rating is shown as a percentage figure and according to WWF this illustrates the total environmental impact of the product.
Forty points are given to the fibre sourcing category and sixty points are given to environmental indicators from the mill sites, such as emissions to air, water and solid waste to landfill. To earn maximum points on fibre sourcing, a paper product must contain high proportions of post-consumer recyled fibre and/or virgin fibre originating from FSC certified forests. PEFC and its associated schemes (ex: SFI, CSA, other National Standards) meet WWF’s criteria for legality but not for certification and controlled sources. So, paper without recycled content and certified under those schemes can score 10% at best in the fiber sourcing category.
A scoring system that favours certain raw materials like recovered paper and FSC certified wood fibre may be limiting the use of CYP in the marketplace since many grades still contain virgin wood fiber and the certification system covering the most global forest area is PEFC and its affiliated standards (see www.pefc.org). A brief review of some grades posted on WWF’s CYP web site showed the following:
· Light-weight coated paper: 4 companies listed and a total of 12 paper grades. The companies are SCA, UPM, Leipa and Steinbeis.
· Uncoated woodfree paper: 5 companies and 20 paper grades (Mondi, M-real, Arjowiggins Graphic, Steinbeis, Lenzig Papier)
· Pulp: Sodra Cell AB was listed with 7 pulp grades.
· Environmental data based on EU Eco-labelling scheme for paper.
· User-friendly and simple scoring system.
· Open and transparent.
· The data for papers listed on the website is third-party audited and WWF strongly encourages independent third-party auditing.
· Key indicators missing, like water use or effluent flow, air emissions like sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides, and particulates.
· Rating is biased towards the use of FSC and recycled fiber.
Publishers’ Database for Responsible Environmental Paper Sourcing (PREPS)
PREPS is a joint initiative from nineteen leading publishers and includes a database of technical specifications and details of the pulps and forest sources for several paper grades.
PREPS was developed and is managed by Acona, a UK CSR management consultancy. Neil Everett, senior partner at Acona explains “PREPS was developed as a result of some of our key customers in the publishing industry needing more information related to forest sources of their purchased paper. We developed the system to engage with mills and printers in order to collect relevant data that can be used by publishers in decision making. The initiative is driven by the members who decide how they are going to use the information to influence purchasing decisions. It includes information on forest sources and certification as well as quality indicators like basis weight, opacity, and brightness. The database can be searched for key criteria and it now houses between 4,500 and 5,000 paper grades.”
PREPS currently benefits from the support of key global publishers such as Egmont, Cambridge University Press, Hachette, Harper Collins, McGraw-Hill, Oxford University Press, Reed Elsevier, Scholastic, Wiley-Blackwell, and others. There are different levels of membership and associated fees which are outlined in the process manual found on the PREPS web site (http://prepsgroup.com/home.php).
Papers are awarded a grading of 1 to 5 stars based on a system developed by Egmont UK and Acona Ltd. The grading system currently focuses only on fiber sourcing and does not include other elements of the life-cycle of paper. However, improvements are underway to gather supplier data on water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. PREPS gives preference to FSC certified fiber and recycled fiber as proof of responsible fiber sourcing, and only awards 3 out of 5 stars to papers certified using other third-party forest certifications schemes such as PEFC and its national affiliates.
· Simple scoring system.
· Supported by several large publishing companies.
· Covers several paper grades and several regions of the world.
· Rating is biased towards FSC and recycled fiber.
· Missing important environmental indicators that make up the environmental footprint of paper.
Each of the above systems has, to some extent, been designed to meet the needs of their creators. This can be seen by the selection of environmental indicators, and the way indicators are weighted to score or rate paper grades. Out of the four systems reviewed, the most objective one is the Paper Profile which is based on measurable data and life-cycle inventory calculations. This approach avoids the controversy related to weighting environmental indicators. A similar approach was also used years ago by CPPA (now FPAC) in developing the Environmental Profile Data Sheet (EPDS). Michael Bradley, Sustainability Director at Canfor Pulp who has been involved with a number of industry LCA studies explains: “The system that most followed a true life-cycle inventory approach was the EPDS. Canfor Pulp still uses a modified EPDS to report environmental data to the marketplace. It includes all the key data indicators, there is no weighting, it is product specific and it is independently audited. The downside of the EPDS is that it requires a significant amount of time to gather the data and make the calculations. None of the other scorecards or systems used today match the level of rigour that EPDS has.”(7)
These various viewpoints and preferences may explain why the uptake of these systems has been inconsistent. The following features may increase the likelihood that some tools become used more widely:
· Ensuring that key environmental indicators in the life-cycle of paper are included.
· Avoiding bias towards certain fiber types used as raw materials.
· Focusing on measurable data and life-cycle-inventory, instead of subjective indicators.
· Offering a low cost and user-friendly system, including time required to complete.
· Requiring mandatory third-party verification of the scorecard or declaration.
· Getting endorsement from environmental organizations.
If weighting is to be included, LCA specialists would claim that it should be fixed (not open to modification by users) and developed using a multi-stakeholder panel of experts in life-cycle-assessment, environmental impact assessment and environmental management in the forest products industry (8). This approach ensures credibility and also avoids “greenwashing” as explained by Terrachoice: “The Sin of the Hidden Trade-off is committed by suggesting a product is “green” based on a single environmental attribute (the recycled content of paper, for example) or an unreasonably narrow set of attributes (recycled content and chlorine free bleaching) without attention to other important, or perhaps more important, environmental issues (such as energy, global warming, water, and forestry impacts of paper). Such claims are not usually false, but are used to paint a “greener” picture of the product than a more complete environmental analysis would support.”(9)
6. National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI). 2007. Comparative Review of Environmental labelling programs. Special report No. 07-06. Research Triangle Park, N.C. National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc.
8. F. Cornejo, M. Janssen, C. Gauldreault, Rejean Samson, P.R. Stuart. 2005. Using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as a Tool to Enhance Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA). Department of Chemical Engineering, École Polytechnique – Montréal, (Québec).