How to select a sustainable paper supplier

Sustainable packaging and paper suppliers have several indicators in common. Look for these signs when choosing a sustainable supplier for your business.

If you are a manufacturer or supplier in one of many industries such as apparel, electronics or home goods and your packaging consists of standard plastic, paper, or paperboard, your company may be contributing to the 46 million tons of municipal solid waste reported by the EPA in 2015. However, by incorporating sustainable paper as part of your packaging, your company can realize many benefits, including reducing costs, protecting the environment, consumer approval and making your company part of the environmental solution.

Finding a packaging supplier that uses sustainable paper can be simpler if you know what to look for. Here are several indicators we, and other industry leaders use to identify compliant paper suppliers.

Signs of a sustainable paper supplier

When seeking a sustainable paper supplier to improve your company’s environmental measures, it is essential that you are aware of the following signs. These standards can help ensure your company meets or exceeds its sustainability goals:

Resource efficiencies

When looking for a sustainable paper supplier, you’ll want one that maximizes assets with minimal waste of resources. Reusing elements or byproducts created by the recycling efforts such as cornstarch or eliminating the need for crucial resources like water in the papermaking process is a strong indication that sustainable development is an integral part of the company’s strategy. 

Reduction goals

Whether it be to help resolve current environmental challenges or progress towards a sustainable future, more consumers and businesses alike are taking the initiative to reduce their ecological footprints. Goals that indicate a supplier’s sustainability vision include reducing:

  • Fiber lost during manufacturing
  • Greenhouse gas emissions 
  • Manufacturing waste
  • Air emissions
  • Power manufacturing

By no means, are these aims exhaustive, as each company will adopt new goals as warranted. 

Sustainability reporting has become increasingly popular since the 1980s. These reports provide information about environmental performance, among other metrics. Organizations like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) enable businesses to be transparent about their environmental impact, and many brands publish sustainability reports on their websites.

Sustainability certifications

Within the paper and packaging industry, third-party organizations provide certification when a company meets environmental standards set forth by each governing body. Paper suppliers honored with these recognitions demonstrate sustainability leadership. The following associations award certifications and recognition in the paper, raw materials and packaging industries:

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Supply chains are responsible for a significant amount of carbon emissions and other forms of pollution.

Compliance with laws and regulations

In addition to meeting set industry standards, there are several laws and regulations to which paper suppliers must adhere. Countries and local communities across the globe have rules and regulations that focus on air and water pollution and forest management. 

The World Bank Group Environmental, Health, and Safety Guidelines, referred to as EHS Guidelines, provide “technical reference documents with general and industry-specific examples of Good International Industry Practice (GIIP).” Within the Forestry Sector Guidelines, a variety of areas are covered, including the environment, Occupational Health, and Safety, and community health. 

Use of renewable energy

To reduce their carbon footprint many paper suppliers are finding innovative methods of generating energy from non-fossil fuels such as wastewater treatment sludge, and biomass, or organic material, from plants and animals, among other sources.

Billerud is on the environmentalist non-profit CDP’s A list as a world leader in combating deforestation. Additionally, we are dedicated to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), including:

  • SDG 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • SDG 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • SDG 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

For more information on Billerud and our record of sustainable practices, read our Annual and Sustainability Reports. 

Commitment to environmental education

When choosing your paper supplier, observe whether the company is committed to environmental education and the advancement of knowledge, understanding, and skills needed to address environmental challenges. Through communicating the different sides of ecological issues individuals can use critical thinking and make informed and responsible decisions when it comes to the environment.

Why sustainably sourced paper matters

Whether it be hazardous chemicals in water sources, litter on our streets or overflowing landfills, the use of plastic, paper, and paperboard across many industries has proven detrimental to the environment. Many reports illustrate the effects of using plastic, paper and cardboard, which make up a large segment of packaging waste. According to Eurostat, paper and plastic products accounted for 41% of packaging waste in the European Union in 2016. 

Packaging products with sustainably sourced paper optimizes source materials and natural resources while minimizing waste, thus, creating a healthier environment for all. 

The importance of sustainable partners

If the goal for your company is sustainability, it is essential that you connect and work with partners that have similar goals for the environment. The joint undertaking can assist in facilitating transparency, addressing material issues, bridging any gaps in compliance and strategies. Look for a leader in packaging materials that has a proven record of sustainable development, such as Billerud, which earned the following recognition, awards and certifications:

For more information about how to make sustainability a core part of your packaging supply chain, read our ebook, “Designing a Sustainable Packaging Program

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