Our goal for a 20 percent GHG emission reduction by 2020 was set as a combination of both Scope I and Scope II emissions.
International Paper’s manufacturing processes generate and consume large amounts of energy, resulting in atmospheric emissions, including greenhouse gases (GHGs). Improvements in energy efficiency reduce the amount of energy we consume to create our products, resulting in less resource consumption and fewer emissions. Therefore our strategy for reducing air emissions is connected to our management of energy.
Our impact on greenhouse gas emissions starts in the forest, well before our manufacturing process. As trees and forests grow, they remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and convert it into organic carbon, stored in woody biomass. Trees release the stored carbon when they die or decay, or are combusted for energy. As the biomass releases carbon as CO2, the carbon cycle is completed. When woody biomass derived from sustainably managed forests is used for energy, the emissions have no net effect on the atmosphere and are thus called carbon-neutral. International Paper emitted approximately 32 million metric tons of carbon-neutral biomass CO2 in 2014, and our use of biomass energy avoids emissions from more carbon-intensive sources like fossil fuels.
In addition to the use of biomass, we also have the ability, through the onsite creation of electricity and steam, to produce a sizable portion of the electricity we need. Additional fuels are purchased to meet our energy needs. Our 41 mills consume more than 95 percent of International Paper’s total energy and generate 90 percent of our fossil fuel GHG.
Our GHG emissions are classified as either Scope I or Scope II. Emissions from burning fossil fuels are considered to be Scope I while emissions from generating purchased electricity at off-site utilities are considered Scope II. Our Scope I emissions also include relatively modest and stable emissions from International Paper–owned and –operated landfills at our paper mills.
Our goal for a 20 percent GHG emission reduction by 2020 was set as a combination of both Scope I and Scope II emissions. On-site generation of GHGs has been trending downward, although it rose slightly in 2015 by 1.5 percent. Scope II emissions were down almost 15 percent from our 2010 baseline and 4 percent year-over-year. Total reduction of Scope I and II from the baseline was 16 percent in 2014.
Once the paper or pulp has been manufactured, it is sold to our customers or converted by International Paper into a variety of products. Rolls of white paper, for example, are sold to large printing firms, or cut to size at our locations or at the converting operations of our customers. Linerboard can be converted in International Paper container plants to make shipping containers or the linerboard can be sold to other converters. Across our company, International Paper has more than 200 converting locations.
Other Air Emissions
Over the last several years fuel-switching, particularly away from coal and oil, resulted in significant reductions of our other air emissions; this included A 31 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide, a 14 percent reduction in particulate matter (PM) and a 15 percent reduction in nitrous oxides for an overall reduction of 18 percent for the criteria pollutants addressed in our air emissions goal.
We have achieved significant company-wide reductions in energy use, GHG emissions, and other air emissions over the past decade. We continue to evaluate and select improvement projects from across our global operations.