DS Smith paper mill in Georgia saluted for its environmental stewardship, the first U.S. facility certified by industry group for its energy efficiency

Sustainable packaging leader DS Smith’s paper mill in southeast Georgia has earned top honors as an industry leader in energy efficiency.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently recognized DS Smith’s mill in Riceboro, the first ISO-50001 certified facility in the pulp, paper and paper products industry in North America.

It’s one of only 145 sites in the U.S. to have received that certification since the ISO’s program began 2012, designed to audit and highlight companies that embrace effective energy management systems. According to the most recent ISO survey, it had certified 260 companies  worldwide in the pulp, paper and paper products sector, and none was in the U.S. – until DS Smith’s Riceboro.

“The old adage that you can’t manage what you don’t measure has never been more important than today,” said Giancarlo Maroto, managing director, paper, forestry and recycling for DS Smith North America. “We’re extremely proud of our Riceboro team and the work they put in to pass the rigorous ISO audit and be recognized as the first paper mill in the U.S. to be ISO-50001 certified.”

“This program will guide us in our plans to boost energy efficiency, improve environmental quality and achieve our goal of reducing carbon emissions, a major component of our Now and Next sustainability strategy, and our ambitious climate targets,” Maroto said.

The Riceboro facility, one of the largest employers in Liberty Country, is considered one of the nation’s cleanest effluent paper mills, producing Kraft linerboard.

An ISO-approved audit team visited the mill, certifying that it uses an Energy Management Systems (EnMS), based on the ISO-50001 internationally recognized framework for integrating energy management into its existing processes. An EnMS system enables organizations to better manage their energy performance to operate more efficiently.

DS Smith recently announced a series of carbon reduction targets, including a science-based target that requires a 40% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions per ton of product by 2030, compared to 2019 levels, and a commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

“This is an important achievement that will ensure energy best practices are identified and delivered across the Riceboro site, and it will enhance cooperation across the entire company,” said Martin Mead, head of energy efficiency at DS Smith “Energy efficiency is a major driver to both decarbonizing our operations and reducing costs. Riceboro’s ISO 50001 certification will ensure that behavioral change contributes to this.”

In addition to its climate action commitment, DS Smith recently announced its $140 million research and development and innovation package to accelerate its work in the circular economy. The new investment underpins DS Smith’s new circular economy led sustainability strategy, Now and Next, which pledges to manufacture 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2023 and to take a billion pieces of problem plastics off supermarket shelves by 2025. 

The Riceboro paper mill team was supported in adopting the DS Smith Group EnMS by RMK Sustainability Group. TUV-Rheinland, an accredited member of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), conducted the audit.

Certification is designed improve energy performance, including setting goals, understanding data related to energy consumption and evaluating energy management system performance.

About DS Smith

DS Smith is a leading provider of sustainable fiber-based packaging worldwide, which is supported by recycling and papermaking operations. It plays a central role in the value chain across sectors including e-commerce, fast moving consumer goods and industrials. Through its purpose of ‘Redefining Packaging for a Changing World’ and its Now and Next sustainability strategy, DS Smith is committed to leading the transition to the circular economy, while delivering more circular solutions for its customers and wider society – replacing problem plastics, taking carbon out of supply chains and providing innovative recycling solutions. Its bespoke box-to-box in 14 days model, design capabilities and innovation strategy sits at the heart of this response. Headquartered in London and a member of the FTSE 100, DS Smith operates in 34 countries employing around 30,000 people and is a Strategic Partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Its history can be traced back to the box-making businesses started in the 1940s by the Smith family. 

North American operations are headquartered in Atlanta, with 13 manufacturing, paper and recycling facilities, totaling more than 2,000 employees. Using the combined expertise of its divisions – including Packaging, Recycling, Paper – DS Smith works with customers to develop solutions that reduce complexity and deliver results throughout the supply chain