Environmentalists Release Common Vision for Transforming Paper Industry

New Publication Lays Out Path to Environmental and Social Sustainability

MONTREAL (January 29, 2003) -- A diverse group of environmental organizations joined together at the annual Canadian Pulp and Paper Conference today to release a common vision urging the paper industry to abandon its destructive 20th century environmental practices and adopt environmentally responsible alternatives for the 21st century.

The Common Vision emerged from the NGO Paper Summit, an unprecedented gathering of over fifty environmental groups working on paper, toxics and forestry issues. The Paper Summit was the first time that such a large and diverse group had come together on this issue. By sharing information about impacts and approaches, and by articulating action priorities, the groundwork has been laid for increasing coordination among campaigns in the future.

The virgin-timber based pulp and paper industry is the single largest industrial consumer of forests worldwide, the largest industrial consumer of freshwater and largest generator of polluted wastewater. The industry is the third largest industrial generator of greenhouse gases and the fourth largest consumer of fossil fuels.

The Common Vision sends a unified message to paper producers and consumers of environmentalists' highest priorities for reducing damage to the Earth:

  • eliminate excessive and unnecessary paper consumption,

  • end the use of fiber that threatens endangered forests,

  • maximize post-consumer recycled fiber content in all paper and paper products,

  • eliminate harmful pulp and paper mill discharges and the use of chlorine and chlorine compounds,

  • end the clearing of natural forest ecosystems and their conversion into plantations.

"The consensus vision released today marks an unprecedented coming together of major environmental organizations across North America. Our organizations will be working with progressive corporations to implement this vision, and singling for further scrutiny those companies who are not interested in change" said Greenpeace Canada's Gavin Edwards.

A number of Fortune 500 companies have already instituted policies that insist on more recycled and sustainably harvested content in their paper. Recently, office supply giant, Staples Inc, announced a landmark environmental policy in November 2002, which other office supply leaders including Office Depot and Office Max are now scrambling to meet or exceed. In its policy, Staples agrees to increase the overall post-consumer recycled content and to stop sourcing paper from endangered forests.

"The world simply cannot tolerate another 100 years of ecologically destructive business as usual in the paper industry. The Vision Document is a roadmap for the future, it is based on ecologically necessary and commercially proven practices and technologies," said Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist at Natural Resources Defense Council.

Click here to download the common vision document (470k PDF file).

Members of the Common Paper Vision Coalition include: Center for a New American Dream, Co-op America, Conservatree, Dogwood Alliance, Environmental Defense, ForestEthics, Greenpeace, Markets Initiative, Natural Resources Defense Council, Recycled Products Purchasing Cooperative/Green Press Initiative.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 500,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.