Georgia-Pacific Innovates for the Good of People & the Planet – Earth Day 2020
Georgia-Pacific has a commitment to the planet that’s even older than Earth Day. In 1969, the company donated to the public a stand of old-growth California redwood trees valued at more than $6 million. Those trees, named Cheatham Grove after GP’s founder, still stand in California’s Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park.
More than 50 years after that donation, sustainability remains paramount to our company and the way we operate. We believe in helping people improve their lives by providing products and services they prefer, while constantly finding ways to reduce the amount of resources we use in our operations. In fact, our products are critical components of shelter, hygiene and convenience for many worldwide. We strive to enhance the quality of life in our communities, help ensure the economic stability of our company, and protect environmental resources. Sustainability is part of who we are, and it has been for a long time.
We haven’t rested on our laurels, though. The company has consistently pushed forward, developing new approaches and technologies to minimize environmental impacts and to maximize the quality of life for our customers and communities.
One of our most recent innovations tackles the problem of recyclable paper and plastic going to landfills. Every year, about 170 million tons of waste in the U.S. end up in landfills or incinerators. Much of this material could be recycled but isn’t because it’s contaminated or difficult to separate. Drawing on our many years of experience in paper recycling, GP developed Juno® Technology, a process that takes waste from office buildings, restaurants, airports, stadiums and schools, and recovers valuable materials that can be fed back into their respective markets to be reused in everyday products.
Our proprietary process starts by sanitizing waste in a specialized, heated chamber to remove contaminants. We then separate the valuable materials—mostly paper fibers, plastics and metals—which are now suitable for reuse. Lastly, we convert the organic material into biogas that can be used in a variety of applications.
When it comes to resource conservation, we have innovated by becoming the first forest products company to use a broad-scale analysis to identify and map endangered forests and special areas in the United States. Once mapped, GP doesn’t buy wood fiber from these areas except in unique situations when active forest management is needed to improve habitat for endangered, rare or vulnerable species. As of 2019, more than six million acres have been mapped in the United States.
GP is also advancing the use of technology to protect endangered forests, launching a program to remotely monitor changes in forest cover by using satellite imagery. An algorithm developed by our in-house team alerts us to disturbances in the forest canopy of designated endangered forest tracts. Our staff then checks these disturbances to ensure that our program criteria are being met.
While resource conservation and recycling are important aspects of GP sustainability efforts, they’re certainly not the whole story. We place a high value on the social aspects of sustainability, dedicating ourselves to making the communities where we operate a better place to live. We provide good, safe, and well-paying jobs, we value diversity, and we look to support a variety of impactful causes through financial support and volunteerism.
One noteworthy example of our social sustainability is our partnership with UNICEF. Through the Green Hand® project, GP Cellulose donated $1 for every metric ton of Golden Isles® fluff pulp purchased by customers in China, contributing a total of $1.5 million to this project, where funding has improved the lives of more than 500,000 children in primary and early childhood schools. Similarly, the Blue Hand® project in India will provide $500,000 to Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programs in schools, pre-schools and early child development centers. Ten-year old Prachi (left) seen here with her 7-year old friend and classmate Tanisha. They study in Std II at the Primary School of Kakrana Village; Hapur District of Uttar Pradesh. Knowing how important it is to wash their hands thoroughly with soap to fight germs and live healthily, they make sure they do it every day.
While it’s impossible to know what daily life will be like when Earth Day turns 100, GP will be there, striving to be the preferred partner of all our constituencies: customers, employees, suppliers, communities, co-investors, regulators and society as a whole. Happy Earth Day!
Georgia-Pacific’s #forest2fun Campaign
GP wants you to join the conversation and show us how you have fun with corrugated. Simply snap a pic and post to social media using #forest2fun. Then, pat yourself on the back for finding yet another use for the material that already boasts a stellar sustainability message.
Make no mistake – corrugated, for all its fun-loving potential, has a serious side, too. For example, according to industry statistics, the average corrugated box contains about 48 percent recycled content, such as old corrugated containers (OCC) and kraft paper. Corrugated also has the most impressive recycling rate in the U.S. of any packaging material, boasting a nearly 93 percent recovery rate of OCC for reuse. These industry stats are clearly indicative of how sustainability efforts have advanced in recent decades, with more trees being planted each year than are harvested, and paper recovery in the U.S. today nearly double what it was in 1990.
Learn more about the sustainability of corrugated packaging and join in the conversation by following GP Packaging & Cellulose on Twitter and using the hashtag #forest2fun!
Industry data source: https://www.paperandpackaging.org/