Friday, January 7, 2011

Green news from the pulp and paper industry in North America

I read two interesting stories this week with a promise for a better future for the forests and the paper industry in North America.

The first story is not all that new, but I read about it only this week, so it was new to me :) It is about Georgia-Pacific (GP), one of the largest wood and paper products companies operating in the Southern United States, which announced that "it will no longer purchase trees from endangered forests and special areas, or from new pine plantations established at the expense of natural hardwood forests."

NRDC, which worked with GP to develop this new policy (together with other environmental groups - Dogwood Alliance and Rainforest Action Network) explained in a press release from last November that "While GP’s new forest policy applies to all of its operations, as a first step in implementing its commitment on Endangered Forests and Special Areas, GP worked with the environmental groups and scientists to identify 11 Endangered Forests and Special Areas totaling 600,000 acres in the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Eco-Region, as well as 90 million acres of natural hardwood forests in the Southern region. Endangered Forests and Special Areas in other regions will be mapped in a similar process, over the coming years."

The South’s natural forests are home to more plant and animal species than anywhere else in North America, yet less than two percent of the region's forests are protected, and the South produces more wood and paper than any other place in the world.

This is an important step - “No other U.S. company has demonstrated this level of initiative in mapping unique forests across such a broad region,” said Debbie Hammel, NRDC Senior Resource Specialist in the NRDC's press release. And as Zacary Shahan of Planetsave that wrote on this story this week said "hopefully, the NRDC, RAN, and Dogwood Alliance can get other companies to follow suit soon."

The second story is definitely new - AFP reported yesterday that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a 278-million-dollar (279-million US) investment to help Canada's pulp and paper industry become more environmentally friendly.

"Speaking in Windsor, Quebec, Harper said Ottawa would namely allocate nearly 25 million dollars to paper manufacturer Domtar Corporation to help its pulp and paper mill "invest in energy-efficient and environment-friendly technologies."

The 24.8-million-dollar (24.9-million US) investment is part of the government's much touted Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program, which seeks to help mills in Canada reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and produce renewable energy from forest biomass. The rest of the investment would go to plants in New Brunswick, Alberta and British Columbia."

Harper is not considered very green and is blamed for refusing to make combating climate change a priority, so it will be interesting to see if he will prioritize the efforts to green up the pulp and paper industry in Canada. He himself said about the new investment in the industry that "I'm well aware of the criticisms. But what we need are concrete measures in order to really meet those targets. And this government has been the first one to take concrete measures such as the one being announced today."

Raz @ Eco-Libris

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