Three Steps to Move from Setting Sustainable Goals to Taking Action

Three Steps to Move from Setting Sustainable Goals to Taking Action

Domtar is working with landowners to help grow certification efforts in the sustainable paper industry. Here’s what the company has learned

Digger Pond, forestry and woodyard manager at Domtar’s Ashdown mill, has played a key role in driving forward the Four States Association and demonstrating its value

Domtar’s Ashdown mill is a case study for how manufacturers can introduce responsible, certified fiber into their supply chain.

An FSC-certified forest near Ashdown, Arkansas.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - 4:50pm

CAMPAIGN: Making a Difference in Smarter Business

CONTENT: Article

In today’s competitive market, organizations of all types are setting their sights on ambitious sustainability goals. Rather than settling on the status quo, companies are pushing themselves to establish objectives that will set them apart. Builders aim for LEED certification, appliance manufacturers offer Energy Star certified products, and in the forest products industry, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification is the gold standard.

However, once a praiseworthy objective is in place, businesses are faced with a new reality: how do they walk the walk when it comes to sustainability?

Domtar, a Fortune 500 manufacturer that introduced the first FSC certified copy paper in North America, has forged forward-looking partnerships to ensure that the supply of certified fiber can meet increasing demand, recognizing that goals are meaningless without action.

Along the way, the organization has learned valuable lessons that can be applied across multiple industries:

The time to plan for the future is now

Though it was already a marketplace leader – having sold more than five million tons of FSC certified paper – Domtar knew it needed to look ahead. The company recognized hurdles that caused many small landowners to forego certification, particularly in the southeastern US, where many of its mills are located. Domtar set out to create an easier way for these potential suppliers to go through the process. To do so, it spearheaded a group certification program called the Four States Timberland Owners Association, which brought different landowners together to pursue FSC as a collective, alleviating the cost of audits significantly.

Prove value to reap rewards

Because many landowners were initially hesitant about pursuing certification, Domtar realized that education would be a key part of the process in increasing supply. The company provided ongoing support by developing contract templates, conducting outreach and hosting one-on-one meetings to go over questions and concerns. While not everyone wanted to participate at first, today there are 68 landowners in the group – and at least as many on the waiting list. To date, more than 70,000 acres have been certified.

You don’t need to go it alone

It’s important to recognize that your goals will be easier to reach if you work hand-in-hand with like-minded organizations and individuals. The 70,000 acres weren’t made possible by Domtar alone – partners like FSC and the Rainforest Alliance, an independent auditor, also played a key role. This type of collaboration is critical in pushing the boundaries, especially when it comes to sustainability.

Five years later, group certification is a testament to the dedication shown by both the landowners and by Domtar. While some question the availability of FSC certified products, Domtar has demonstrated that with investment and effort, supply can meet demand.

Domtar has worked with FSC for more than a decade to provide its customers with a wide range of sustainable paper options via the EarthChoice Product Line. Read the complete case study about the Four States Timberland Owners Association and the Ashdown Mill.


Dan Persica, Sustainability Communications Manager
+1 (803) 802-8067