According to preliminary data from the Pulp and Paper Products Council, recycling rates climbed in Canada last year to reach 58%. This marks an improvement in recycling efforts by 33%, or one-third, from 2002. As Earth Day nears, the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) wishes to congratulate Canadians for their leadership and enthusiasm to date in recycling paper, as their efforts have exceeded expectations. While the progress is good news, Canadians must do more to ensure that no good paper goes to landfill.

The data mark an important milestone for Canadians and the forest products industry as both strive to create a healthier planet, said Avrim Lazar, FPAC’s president and chief executive. Nevertheless, “this is no time for the industry and Canadians to rest on their laurels,” Mr. Lazar said. “The progress in diverting paper to landfill is impressive, but the forest products industry once again challenges Canadians to go further given the valuable benefits from recycling.”

Good recovered fibre from paper, newsprint or discarded paper packaging can be used in the production of new products. Moreover, diverting as much of it as possible from landfill reduces the amount of methane — over 20 times more potent than a greenhouse gas, such as carbon dioxide — emitted into the atmosphere.

Just as Canadians have responded in recent years to the recycling challenge, FPAC said it is time for industrial sectors to follow their lead and place environmental excellence at the top of their business agendas. Regardless of past performance, it is up to each sector — including forest products — to demonstrate leadership and set ambitious goals in an effort to create a better environment and attract the growing number of customers who will demand sustainably-produced goods.

“Canada’s forest products industry is committed to going further, and we encourage others to follow suit,” Mr. Lazar said. “As the world becomes increasingly preoccupied with climate change and sustainability, customers are asking more questions about where their products come from and how they are produced. For Canada’s forest products sector, this represents an unprecedented opportunity and a sweet spot we want to target.”

The industry’s track record is undeniable — FPAC member companies operate in a way that is environmentally responsible and socially desirable. Examples abound:

Carbon emissions from Canadian pulp and paper mills are down 44% from 1990 levels, or better than seven times Canada’s targets under the Kyoto accord.
Increased emphasis on renewable energy use. Renewables, such as biomass, account for 60% of the sector’s energy supply, up from 49% in 1990. The industry’s long-term goal is to be a net producer of renewable power.
The regeneration of forests, through planting over 600 million trees annually. This is a key reason Canada retains 91% of its original forest cover, more than any other country.
And virtually zero deforestation in Canada, as confirmed by the UN. Deforestation, largely through illegal logging and concentrated in the southern hemisphere, is a significant source — nearly 20% — of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite these accomplishments, FPAC believes it can do more. For instance, the industry — in a world first — pledged to become carbon neutral throughout all stages of the product life cycle by 2015, without purchasing offsets.

“The greatest opportunities for the future of the Canadian forest products industry will be realized by providing leadership in sustainability and environmental performance,” Mr. Lazar said. “Our goal is to establish Canadian forest products as the environmental products of choice in the global marketplace.”

Canadians can be assured their forest products sector will do its part for the global environment, Mr. Lazar added. “It’s time for the rest of the world to follow Canada’s lead in sustainably managing forests — the world’s climate depends on it.”

The forest products industry represents 3% of Canada’s GDP, directly employs over 300,000 Canadians and is the economic backbone of rural Canada. FPAC is the voice of Canada’s wood, pulp and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade and environmental affairs. Canada’s forest industry is an $80-billion dollar a year industry and one of Canada’s largest employers, operating in over 300 Canadian communities, and providing nearly 900,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country.

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For more information, contact:

Laura Ballance
Curve Communications
604-684 3170
laura@curvecommunications.com

Jeremy Dunn
Curve Communications
604-684 3170
jeremy@curvecommunications.com

Paul Vieira
Director of Communications
Forest Products Association of Canada
(613) 563-1441 ext: 323
pvieira@fpac.ca