Europe's pulp and paper sector must move forward on corporate social responsibility | WWF

Europe's pulp and paper sector must move forward on corporate social responsibility



Posted on 25 March 2004
Europe's pulp and paper sector is resonsible for more than 50% of wood consumption from Europe's forests - and this is expected to increase.
© WWF / Edward Parker
Vienna, Austria - In an open letter, WWF invites the European pulp and paper industry to jointly work on guidelines for corporate responsibility reporting. Today's invitation follows the revelation of severe gaps in the quantity and quality of information on environmental performance being made available to shareholders, ratings agencies, and customers by Europe's top 46 pulp and paper companies.

WWF today released a survey of the European pulp and paper sector which shows that less than half (21) of the surveyed companies produce a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), environmental, or sustainability report. Nearly a third do not provide any environmental information at all. Many companies, even where they provide information, fail to cover essential environmental aspects. 
 
Together, the surveyed companies have a turnover of €80 billion and are responsible for more than 50 per cent of wood consumption in Europe. In many countries they form a significant part of the economy and therefore have a huge potential impact on the environment, not only in forests, but throughout the entire product supply chain.

Comprehensive reporting on environmental impacts is essential not only to demonstrate a company's commitment to corporate responsibility, but also as a pre-requisite for a sound evaluation of these companies by ratings agencies, investors, and financial institutions who produce and use indices such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. 
   
According to WWF, transparent reporting on environmental and social impacts should include forest management; product purchase policies; emissions, effluent and waste; energy use; raw material use; transport; toxics; water use; compliance with national laws and international conventions; commitment to a triple bottom line; labour codes and standards; and stakeholder engagement.
 
Only 35 per cent of the pulp and paper companies surveyed by WWF report on more than half of these 12 aspects. The best information is currently provided on emissions, effluents, and waste, with 54 per cent of the surveyed companies having reported on these. Only 13 per cent of companies reported on their use of chemicals, 26 per cent on water consumption, 37 per cent on their purchasing policy and raw material use,  and 43 per cent on forest management. 
  
The production of paper and board in Western Europe has increased by more than 40 per cent over the past 10 years and this trend is expected to continue. Figures from the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) estimate that the forest industry, led by the pulp and paper sector, will increase its wood consumption from Europe's forests by 50 per cent before 2020. This is a huge expansion, and it is clear that commonly agreed standards need to be in place not just for the environment, but also for society.

The WWF European Forest Programme has invited the European pulp and paper sector  to cooperate on defining criteria and best practice standards as well as guidelines on corporate responsibility reporting. WWF will attend the RISI European Pulp and Paper Conference in Nice, France, on 30–31 March.   

For more information: 
Helma Brandlmaier
Communications Officer, WWF European Forest Programme
Tel: +43 1 48817 217 or +43 676 83 488 217 (mobile)
Europe's pulp and paper sector is resonsible for more than 50% of wood consumption from Europe's forests - and this is expected to increase.
© WWF / Edward Parker Enlarge