Production: Asking the Right Questions
4. Clean, Responsible
Environmentally responsible production should aim to reduce air emissions, water emissions and use, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Clean production means minimizing solid waste through recycling, composting, and by finding other beneficial uses for byproducts. Also ask what measures are being taken to avoid using hazardous chemicals.
5. Climate Change and
You'll want to know whether the company has a plan to address its impact on climate change. For example, it should have a strong energy strategy that increases energy efficiency and depends less on fossil fuels, more on sustainably managed biofuels. Has the company measured its carbon footprint including facilities, products, transportation and travel? For example, Verso Paper Corp.'s Quinnesec Mill in Michigan will ramp up its use of renewable biomass, resulting in more than 95 percent self-generated onsite electricity by the end of this year.
6. Recycling and Use of Recovered Paper Products
The real benefit of recycling is keeping paper out of landfills. By diverting usable fiber from landfills, we not only reclaim a valuable raw material, but also reduce GHG emissions (methane) that result when landfilled paper products degrade over time.
The ultimate goal of paper recycling should be to increase fiber recovery beyond the current 63.5 percent reported by American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) to the maximum possible in the United States, and then to re-use all fiber recovered in products so the least amount of transporting, cleaning and energy for processing of the post-consumer fiber is needed. In an RFP, decide what type of paper best suits the project with overall environmental impact in mind.
Integrating sustainability goals into business practices and making them routine takes the commitment and engagement of the entire team. Taking this initiative creates learning opportunities for all parties about better ways to buy products and services and to conserve natural resources.