Transparency in pulp and paper industry will help halt deforestation

Business News

By Hanna Jager

Nestlé Global Responsible Sourcing Leader, Pulp & Paper

Agriculture is a major driver of deforestation. Today, palm oil plantations steal the headlines in terms of forest clearances. However, palm oil is just one of the many industries that put pressure on the world’s remaining forests.

The pulp and paper industry, for example, which includes products such as office paper, printed pictures, tissues and product packaging – accounts for 40% of industrial wood traded globally. It therefore plays a vital role in terms of forest management, balancing carbon, preserving biodiversity and safeguarding people’s livelihoods.

Global paper consumption has risen steadily for decades, with the trend set to continue given demand in emerging economies, creative uses of fiber as a renewable resource, and the move away from plastics.

This means that addressing deforestation and social concerns in our pulp and paper supply chain is increasingly important for us, to ensure we meet our no deforestation and responsible sourcing commitment (pdf, 280Kb) by 2020, and beyond.

Complex supply chains
Nestlé buys packaging paper and boxes directly from printers and packaging manufacturers worldwide, and we want to map the links between finished goods and forests in our supply chain. However, because we are several tiers removed from the forests where trees are cut down, this can be difficult.

Since 2010, we’ve run regular supply chain mapping exercises for major product categories with our partner, The Forest Trust (TFT), to identify the origin of our virgin fiber, all the way back to the country of origin. Thanks to this work we can now trace 91% of the total known virgin pulp and paper we purchase back to country level. Our ambition is to increase our traceability all the way back to source, where we see the highest priorities in our supply chain.

However, this is not straightforward job. The pulp and paper supply chain is complex and can be very fragmented in the different regions where we operate. Sometimes our suppliers don’t have information about their supply chain beyond their direct suppliers, or when they do, they don’t necessarily want to share the information they have.

We’re working closely together with our buying teams and TFT to address these transparency challenges, build stronger relationships with suppliers and drive effective action. Thereafter, we can address other challenges in pulp and paper, such as High Conservation Value (HCV) areas, social issues, smallholder livelihoods and indigenous rights.

By collaborating with our suppliers on Responsible Sourcing Supplier trainings and events dedicated to a market or topic, and through field visits with TFT, we’re driving improvements from forest to factory. Our ambition is to reach 100% responsibly sourced and deforestation-free pulp and paper by 2020.

Digital technologies
However, we need to make faster progress to improve traceability, address deforestation and meet our 2020 commitment, and we know we can’t do it alone. One area where we’re innovating is the use of digital technologies.

This year, we’ve started using SupplyShift, a cloud-based platform that helps us collect and analyse data to map our supply chain, with all of our corrugated and solid board suppliers globally. This is a new way of working for our suppliers, but once embedded it will help us gain actionable data more frequently and with improved accuracy.

We’re also piloting Starling, a satellite-based service developed by Airbus and The Forest Trust (TFT) that helps us determine where forest losses are resulting in deforestation, and where trees are being cut down, in pulp and paper.

With APPM/Titan, one of our suppliers in West Russia, we’re using Starling to monitor a harvesting moratorium in Dvinsky, an area of an important Intact Forest Landscape (IFL) that many are fighting to conserve. Through this project, we’re also exploring the possibility of using this tech to support forest productivity and resource use planning, which would in turn provide value for our suppliers in terms of better data to responsibly manage their stocks.

In 2019, we’ll roll out this pilot in four new regions – Southeast USA, Canada, Indonesia, and Brazil.

Encouraging transparency
To stop deforestation in paper and pulp supply chains we need to drive industry-wide transparency. As such, Nestlé is publishing a list of our direct suppliers (pdf, 380Kb) and pulp mills (pdf, 370Kb) in our upstream supply chain. This will help us to focus our resources on tackling local challenges to drive responsible forest management. We also hope that our move will encourage others to follow suit, to make transparency the industry norm.

The industry must act as a whole to improve practices, and transparency is just one piece of the puzzle. This is why we’re calling on all stakeholders in the pulp and paper supply chain to work together on the pressing issues in sourcing regions worldwide, and to find ways in which we can scale-up our successes.

Nestlé believes that a deforestation-free world is possible. We need bold, collective action to achieve it, now.

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