A lot of companies want to make their operations more sustainable, but in their efforts to do so, many overlook the importance of developing a strategy and setting measurable goals. It’s therefore noteworthy when a company integrates both successfully into its sustainability approach.

Sustana Group — already a leader in sustainable, recycled fibers and paper products with one of the smallest environmental footprints among its peers — raised the bar when it published its 2019 sustainability strategy and report. The strategy highlights the company’s environmental stewardship, sets benchmarks for future measurement and commits to working continuously to make its footprint smaller each year.

“This new, comprehensive sustainability strategy will enable the company to address today’s global environmental and social challenges,” said Michele Bartolini, senior marketing director for Sustana Group.

Strategy, analysis and goals

Sustana Group provides a comprehensive, sustainable pulp and paper solution for customers throughout North America. The company’s sustainability strategy focuses on three key pillars — Environmental Stewardship (Planet), Thriving Workplace and Communities (People), and Circular Value Chain and Products (Products) — which will help it to achieve its vision of creating a sustainable, closed-loop fiber future.

“We undertook an exhaustive materiality assessment, using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to guide our analysis,” Bartolini explained. “We drilled down to where we could be sure we’d have a material impact.”

To track progress on its sustainability strategy, Sustana Group set new strategic, measurable and impactful goals across its priority issues. These include:

  • Achieve zero waste to landfill in all pulp and paper operations and offices by 2030;
  • Increase recovery of new sources of waste fibers by 20 percent by 2030;
  • Increase use of recycled fibers across all products by 20 percent by 2030;
  • Increase partnerships with external organizations to divert paper waste from landfills by 2030;
  • Foster thriving local communities in areas of operation by donating 1 percent of profits to support education, youth programs and environmental conservation initiatives by 2020;
  • Raise awareness of recycling through community outreach programs by 2025; and
  • Involve 100 percent of employees in Sustana Group’s vision of diversity and inclusion by 2025.

Building on a strong foundation

These goals build on Sustana Group’s existing track-record of working towards a closed-loop fiber future.

For instance, every year, the company’s pulp division recycles enough paper to fill more than 4,700 50-foot rail cars from end-to-end and reduce landfill space by more than 1 million cubic yards. By using recycled materials, Sustana Fiber saves more than 4 million trees annually, while producing about 500 million pounds of premium, recycled fiber used to make paper, food packaging and tissue products. Sustana Fiber’s recovered fiber is also reused as animal bedding.

The company’s Rolland division has the smallest footprint in the paper industry, according to Bartolini. She also emphasized that Rolland is the only North American paper manufacturer using biogas, which powers 93 percent of its mill’s energy needs, reducing annual carbon dioxide emissions by 70,000 tons. Rolland’s closed-loop system also recycles every drop of water up to 30 times.

“Developing this sustainability strategy was a deeply involved procedure,” said Bartolini. “One of the reasons I chose to join Sustana Group in the first place was its sustainability story and its real, concrete dedication to environmental stewardship. This sustainability plan builds upon that. It’s more comprehensive than anything we’ve done before, because we knew we had to continue to grow and strengthen our approach. We intend to keep pushing the envelope. With smart decision-making, strategic planning and strong relationships, a sustainable, closed-loop fiber future is within reach.”