Friday, August 29, 2008

Kruger to Pursue FSC Certification to Respond to Customers

Canada's Boreal Forest is closer to being managed responsibly after today's announcement that major logging company Kruger intends to pursue Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.

"The announcement by Kruger shows the power that an engaged marketplace and major customers have in bringing about better forest management in Canada," said Richard Brooks, Greenpeace forest campaign coordinator. "The next step is to make sure Kruger follows through with its promise and gets all of its logging operations and product lines FSC-certified in a short period of time."

For more than a year, Greenpeace has been urging customers of Kruger to pressure the paper and lumber supplier to adopt better forest management practices and protect intact forests. Forest Stewardship Council certification is a major step above status quo logging and leads to a more responsible managed forest.

The Kruger announcement is a challenge to some other forestry companies, such as AbitibiBowater, Buchanan Forest Products, and West Fraser, to green their operations. None of these companies are pursuing FSC certification nor protecting intact forest areas.

While greeting the news with applause, conservationists note that protecting intact forest areas and practicing FSC certified logging go hand in hand and are important steps to conserve the Boreal Forest. Kruger has not yet taken action to protect intact forests which are key habitats for endangered species such as woodland caribou.

Read Kruger's press release here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Asia is Talking About has been getting some attention lately, from everyone from paper purchasers to suppliers to international media. Today, there's an interesting article at CSR-Asia, which talks about and also the Australian campaign, Wake Up Woolworths! Erin Lyon's article discusses how the websites are "demonstrating the increasingly global nature of both businesses, and also of those who work to hold them accountable." Recently, Woolworth's decided to cancel its contracts with supplier Asia Pulp and Paper because of their inability to provide reliable assurance of there environmental responsibility in the diminishing and endangered forests of Indonesia. The action follows on the same decision by US based retailer Staples earlier this year.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Paper for Peace

An extraordinary art project called Combat Paper is working with veterans of the war in Iraq, making paper out of military uniforms and using the paper to produce artworks and books. A USA-wide tour of workshops, lectures and exhibitions is underway.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Follow Your Paper Trail at

Sick of spreadsheets? How about a visually compelling map of the location and performance of the pulp mill you get your paper from? Its the easiest way yet to find out what's in your paper and avoid risk to your brand., launched by an international coalition of NGOs brings together GoogleMaps technology, environmental risks and manufacturing data on pulp and paper mills. It reveals their practices and rate their performance on social and environmental criteria. The website will be a tool for paper purchasers to find information easily on how a pulp mill is performing and identify social and environmental risks associated with those operations, no matter where they are in the world. provides transparency by assigning a Red, Yellow, or Green rating, in multiple categories for individual pulp mills. It rewards pulp mills which have adopted the cleanest technologies and embraced responsible fiber sourcing through credible forest certification by assigning a Green Light rating. It exposes pulp mills which have failed to adopt sustainable practices, or who are in conflict with local communities or workers by assigning a Red Light rating. The ratings are based on the widely supported conservation criteria laid down in the Common Vision for Transforming the Paper Industry and supported by information provided by local conservation organizations or other stakeholders based on credible evidence.

Press Release Here

Climate Change Enclosed

ForestEthics has a new report out about American junk mail impacts on the climate, called 'Climate Change Enclosed.' It opens with a quote from one of America's and the world's top climate scientists, James Hansen:

"20 years after I first testified before Congress on the threats posed by climate change, we have reached a point at which we must remove unnecessary carbon emissions from our lives, or face catastrophic consequences. It is hard to imagine waste more unnecessary than the 100 billion pieces of junk mail Americans receive each year, and these new findings, revealing that the emissions of junk mail are equal to those of over nine million cars, underscore the prudent necessity of a Do Not Mail Registry."
Nice-looking report. For the purposes of proper disclosure, I did much of the research of the numbers for the report.

The Rules for Carbon Accounting of Harvested Forests

This is a techie post, but it is important that we all understand how this works to understand the real emissions that are the result of paper production, consumption and disposal.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sets the rules by which countries report their Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The IPCC is empowered to make these rules according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Nearly every country, including the United States, is a signatory.

With all that in mind, let’s focus on the rules around emissions from harvesting forests and the storage of carbon in forest products. The rules for measuring carbon stored in ecosystems is actually pretty straightforward: the balance of carbon stored there year after year is measured (estimated) based on estimates for which the IPCC provides methodologies. Change in the carbon stored are reported either as an emission (the amount of carbon went down) or a removal (the amount of carbon went up). It is called a removal because the ecosystem removes carbon from the atmosphere. At present, the U.S. is estimated to be carbon positive, as trees grow more than they are cut down or are otherwise lost. This is the equation given in the IPCC’s Good Practice Guidance for Land-Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry for national greenhouse gas reporting of the carbon balance in forests:

The equation means that the change in forest carbon is equal to the change in living biomass plus the change in dead organic matter plus the change in soils.

There are also rules for accounting for harvests of forest products. This is the most significant issue with regard to the paper industry, since it lays out the rules by which the most important input into the industry is accounted for in terms of carbon emissions. Let’s focus on the Good Practice Guidance equation 3.2.7 “Annual Carbon Loss Due to Commercial Fellings.” The loss due to logging (a.k.a. harvest) is calculated as:

[losses from commercial fellings] = [the volume of wood extracted] x [wood density] x [biomass extraction factor] x [carbon left to decay] x [carbon content of the wood harvested]

For our purposes, we need to understand that the wood harvested is an emission of carbon and we also need to include the wood that is left in the forest that will decay and that must be accounted for as well. Thus, when accounting for inputs into products or the use of biomass for energy, harvested wood must be counted as an emission. There really is no ambiguity around this fact.

Those who state ‘biomass is carbon neutral’ (a normative statement, not a scientific one) rely on statements like this one in the 1996 Revised Guidelines for national greenhouse gas reporting:

“Biomass fuels are included in the national energy and CO2 emissions accounts for information only. Within the energy module biomass consumption is assumed to equal its regrowth.”
You see, they say, emissions are reported “for information only” and “biomass consumption is assumed equal to regrowth!” What they don’t say is why, as the very next sentence makes clear:

“Any departures from this hypothesis are counted within the Land Use Change and Forestry module.”
The reason biomass is not reported as an emission in the energy section of the reporting is because it would be double-counting to do so, as this emission has been accounted for already under forests. This view is accepted by the good people at the EPA and at Environment Canada who compile the numbers for the national greenhouse gas reports for the two countries. EPA said:

The net change in forest C is not equivalent to the net flux between forests and the atmosphere because timber harvests do not cause an immediate flux of C to the atmosphere. Instead, harvesting transfers C to a “product pool.” Once in a product pool, the C is emitted over time as CO2 when the wood product combusts or decays. The rate of emission varies considerably among different product pools. For example, if timber is harvested to produce energy, combustion releases C immediately. Conversely, if timber is harvested and used as lumber in a house, it may be many decades or even centuries before the lumber decays and C is released to the atmosphere. (emphasis added)
The Canadian National Report on Greenhouse Gas Emissions states the following:

In keeping with the current IPCC (2003) default methodology, emissions from forest management activities comprise all the CO2-C contained in harvested roundwood and harvest residues. All carbon transferred out of managed forests as
wood products is deemed an immediate emission.

Let’s proceed to a simplified example of how this might work:

In one year, a country could have 100 units of carbon in forests. If that country lets that carbon grow (as trees will do if left alone), then perhaps the next year the balance could be 105 units. In this scenario, the country gains five units of carbon that can be applied to its greenhouse gas emissions and is equal to an offset of other emissions. If that same country instead harvests the forests for ten units of carbon, counts these emissions, and also counts its growth of five units, ending up with a balance of 95 units. That is, most of the forests grew and it would have gone to 105, but ten units were removed and thus the country’s balance is 95, causing an net emission of five to be added to the country’s total emissions. For this harvest we would also need to calculate the carbon that was left in the forest to decay, and there are rules around how to do that. This ranges from 7% in boreal ecosystems to 25% in tropical plantations.

Thus, within the forest calculation, the harvest is an emission and all harvests must be treated as such. The system presumes forests will grow. Indeed trees grow whether we cut them or not. There are many complexities to how fast they grow at different stages of ecosystem re-growth (e.g., very young trees accumulate little carbon as do very old forests, while intermediate-aged trees are perhaps the most robust accumulators of carbon). There are also complexities about ownership, the intent of owners or managers, additional growth from management practices, etc. However, these rules in methodology allow us to make a simple estimate of the emissions from wood harvest to use in Carbon Footprinting or carbon accounting.

In a later post I will discuss how the portion of biomass removed from forests can be sequestered in products and specifically in paper as the IPCC rules allow, as well as an estimate done by the US Forest Service Forest Products Lab.


I was remiss in not posting the actual equation for accounting the "Annual Carbon Loss from Commercial Fellings," which is equation 3.2.7 in the IPCC Good Practice Guidance, Chapter 3. Here is the equation and notes about what the notation means taken directly from the guidance:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Video: The Secret Life of Paper

The Secret Life of Paper is a brand new 5-minute film on the impact of paper production and consumption on the environment brought to you by INFORM. Be one of the first to watch it right here on The Paper Planet. And visit the whole website at

Every Little Bit Helps, So Thanks Omni Hotels

Omni Hotels Goes Phone Book Free and Reduces its Paper Use

Omni Hotels is hanging up on phone books for good. The luxury hotel brand announced today that it will immediately recycle its current stock of approximately 30,000 phone books and eliminate future use of phone books at all of its properties.

"Saying goodbye to phone books means Omni Hotels will preserve approximately 217,200 pounds of paper each year," said Richard Maxfield, senior vice president of operations for Omni Hotels. "Our goal is to preserve more than 18,000 trees over the next decade. We feel good about the impact this initiative will have on the environment."

Paper reduction is catching on at

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Dogwood Alliance Releases PACkaging MAN Video Game

Who says you can’t have fun while saving the forests… And to prove the point, Dogwood Alliance has created the coolest video game since 1980!

This morning Dogwood Alliance launched an environmentally themed video game, Packaging Man, to raise awareness on the destructive impact that fast food paper packaging has on Southern forests. Play a video game and save Southern forests? That’s right… based on the old school Pac-Man arcade game they’ve put a new environmentally themed twist on the classic game.

Paper company executive are gobbling up all the forests. Packaging Man must save the day and protect Southern forests! Rising up from a giant pile of discarded wrappers, bags and boxes, Packaging Man is the hero. After you play the quick game you can take action and send a message to the CEO of McDonalds and the rest of the 11 Fast Food Junkies whose packaging decisions so negatively impact Southern forests.

The paper company executives are gobbling up all the forests. Packaging Man must save the Day!

Play the game at:

To view the full press release, visit:

Tasmanian Pulp Mill: Emissions Boondoggle

A new report, Green Carbon, from research scientists at the Australian National University has shown the importance of saving native (aka natural) forests to protect the climate. Seems we have been underestimating the carbon store there, at least in the natural eucalyptus forests in Australia. It is also likely we do this elsewhere, or at least get the accounting wrong when we report on our national greenhouse gas emissions. We can look at this in later posts. Here's a link (.pdf) to a synopsis of the report.

A paper company, Gunns, is currently cutting these forests down in Tasmania, replacing the native forests with plantations and thereby reducing the stored carbon to a fraction of its original amount. They also want to build a large pulp mill to further exploit these forests.

Take a look at the Wilderness Society's video of the logging and civil society response.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Fifty powerful paper people

Who's moving and shaking in the paper world? The forest products and paper industry information provider RISI has produced a listing of the 50 people it deems to be most powerful in the pulp and paper industry. The top three are the bosses of Asia Pulp and Paper, International Paper and StoraEnso, and three of the top seven are leaders of the Chinese industry. Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) are both represented, with RISI making its view of such environmental organisations clear, describing them as 'the bane of the forest products producer's lives' (sic). The Forest Stewardship Council's (FSC's) Heiko Liedeker is at number 9, while the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes' (PEFC's) Ben Gunnerberg is 36th. Celebrities on the list include Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and Harry Potter author JK Rowlings. IKEA's paper buyer came in at number 50, pipping the Pope at the post, with IKEA catalogues apparently now more numerous than bibles.