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Managing Natural Resources

Third party certification

International Paper supports 3rd party certification ensuring wood is harvested from responsibly managed forests - not the promotion of one certification system over another. We believe the focus must be on improving the forestry standards on the 90% uncertified global forests rather than debating those forestlands already being managed with sustainable practices. Our use of a particular certification standard is dependent upon the location of the facility or forest – sourcing fiber from the closest source is one way that we ensure our environmental responsibility.

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Why can't all corrugated boxes be made from 100% recycled material?

A) Strength: As fibers are recycled repeatedly, they degrade, losing strength.
B) Supply: There's not enough recycled fiber to meet demand.
C) Sustainability: If we stop using virgin fibers, our U.S. forests could be endangered as landowners shift to other uses for their land, such as residential, commercial or industrial development.

Addition of virgin fiber is necessary to balance all of the above.

Strength - A brown box left outside begins to disintegrate. That's because it's made from wood fibers that nature designed to decompose. Repeated recycling of wood fibers also causes them to degrade over time. In fact, a recent study found that without any virgin fiber added, only 2% of original fibers survived the 5th round of recycling. Because wood fibers are a renewable natural resource, they are, by nature, not infinitely recyclable.

Supply - Even though more than 85% of all U.S. corrugated is recycled, that's still not enough fiber to meet the worldwide demand. There is also an 8-12% process loss in recycling packaging grades, and 10 tons of old paper only yields about 8 tons of reusable pulp. The research study concluded that the pulp and paper industry would run out of recycled fibers in only 2-6 months if fresh virgin fibers were not added into the overall supply.

Sustainability - By responsibly using virgin fibers from well-managed sources, we are actually protecting the health and well being of the ecologically valuable U.S. private forestlands that supply more than 90% of all U.S. wood harvested. In essence, that means that we're protecting our water supply and helping to mitigate the effects of climate change by keeping forests intact to store carbon and help clean the air.

For more answers to sustainability questions, take our Calculation Checker quiz