IP: Solving the Sustainability Puzzle: Recycling is only one piece of a complicated industry challenge

Sustainability has become a more common focus in recent years, as both organizations and

individuals seek ways to contribute in a meaningful way to protect the environment. Across

the paper industry, most manufacturers are focused on practices that not only advance the

industry at large, but ensure that the public has continued access to renewable products.

Some companies seeking to lessen their own carbon footprint might seek out paper

products that are identified as 100% recycled – however, 100% recycled is only part of the

sustainability story.

It’s important to highlight that renewable fiber-based products are only able to be recycled to

an extent and after several recycling cycles, the fiber weakens to the point of becoming

unusable. Should recycling be the only effort deployed by paper companies, the global

economy would eventually run out of paper products – it’s just a matter of time.

This is a global issue, as the United Nations (UN) has taken note and highlighted 17 goals

as part of its own focus on sustainable development – including a nod to both recycling and

planting trees to protect the forests. In an effort to elevate this issue and challenge the

paper industry to reframe how they approach minimizing their environmental impact,

International Paper created Vision 2030 in accordance with the UN’s goals. This

commitment was born out of the organization’s desire to not only identify more meaningful

ways to contribute to a renewable future but to hold the industry to higher standards and

enable others to join in this effort.

“We are always looking to expand our product portfolio to provide sustainable alternatives to

non-recyclable, or hard-to-recycle items,” said Katie Diley, Innovation Marketing Manager at

International Paper. “Our aim is to provide fiber-based products in as many segments as

possible, ranging from eCommerce to to-go packaging. The more plastic, Styrofoam, and

other hard-to-recycle items we can replace, the more demand we create for renewable

forest products, accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Vision 2030 highlights in detail that organizations looking to lessen their environmental

footprint should think bigger than just purchasing recycled goods. They should also seek out

companies that are committed to supporting the protection of healthy and abundant forests.

Companies like International Paper, which depend on thriving forests, are on the front line of

contributing to healthy forest ecosystems in both working and non-working forests. 

There are places in the world where forests are threatened, and deforestation from agriculture and

development is devastating ecosystems, but there are also places where forests are thriving

because of careful stewardship. Companies that manufacture forest products can be a

powerful force in preventing deforestation and keeping forests healthy.

As organizations seek to create more sustainable operations and find a sustainable

packaging supplier, they should consider the following factors:

● Ask about a company’s sustainability vision to understand if they’re doing more than

just recycling.

● Check to see if they are partnering with eco-focused organizations that can help

identify further tools and resources.

● Consult your peers about their own sustainability practices and assess the broader

impact your organization can make.

For more information or to learn how to join International Paper’s initiative to drive

sustainable outcomes for people, communities and the environment, please visit

https://renewablefuture.internationalpaper.com .

About International Paper

International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a leading global producer of renewable fiber-based

packaging and pulp products with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin

America, North Africa and Europe. We produce packaging products that protect and

promote goods, and enable worldwide commerce, and pulp for diapers, tissue and other

personal hygiene products that promote health and wellness. We are headquartered in

Memphis, Tenn. and employ approximately 38,000 colleagues. Net sales for 2020 were $21

billion*. In Russia, the Company has a 50/50 joint venture, Ilim Group, the country’s largest

integrated manufacturer of pulp and paper and its largest foreign-domestic alliance in the

forestry products sector. For more information about International Paper, our products and

global citizenship efforts, please visit www.internationalpaper.com  .

*Inclusive of our former pulp and paper mill in Kwidzyn, Poland, which was sold on August

6, 2021, and our former global papers business, which became a standalone, publicly

traded company on October 1, 2021.