A Conversation With Our CSO

May 22, 2024
Heather Smeltser

Corp Communications Manager

illustration depicting a meeting

Our sustainability journey is crucial to the long-term health of our company and the planet. Join us in reviewing last year's progress and setting goals for the future. Read a conversation with Sophie, our Chief Sustainability Officer, introducing the 2023 Sustainability Report, available here.

How have you seen IP evolve throughout its sustainability journey over the last ten years?

Over the past decade, I’ve seen sustainability become an important value driver for our customers, reinforcing our business model. During this time, consumers have grown more aware of how their choices impact the environment, creating demand for our renewable fiber-based products. Guided by Vision 2030, our sustainability framework, IP has continuously worked alongside customers and strategic partners to become a leader in renewable fiberbased solutions and to help advance a low-carbon, circular economy.

What does circularity mean to IP and how does IP’s business model contribute to the broader circular economy? 

Despite having eight corners, our boxes are circular by design because we create them with the end use in mind. In other words, our boxes are designed to be recovered, recycled and reused. At International Paper, circularity begins in the forest. We know that healthy forests provide clean air and water, nurture  biodiversity and mitigate the harmful impacts of climate change. That’s why we are committed to using only recovered fiber and sustainably managed wood fiber to make our products. Ultimately, we take this renewable and recovered fiber and turn it into products using circular manufacturing processes. Through internal and external collaboration, International Paper works with legislators, landowners and industry stakeholders to identify and advance renewable solutions that today’s consumers want. And finally, to help close the loop, our recycling business recovers and transforms used materials back into the global economy to create new products.

portrait of Sophie Beckham

Despite having eight corners, our boxes are circular by design because we create them with the end use in mind. In other words, our boxes are designed to be recovered, recycled and reused.

How is IP supporting a low-carbon future?

Last year, we fell short of our goals for reducing our environmental impact in water and greenhouse gas emissions. We know how important sustainable fiberbased products are to our customers and the world, and we take seriously the commitments we’ve made to be a good steward of the environment. We’ve doubled down on a roadmap to decarbonize our operations, and created a dedicated team to focus on exploring opportunities to provide low-carbon solutions. We’re working with partners to begin exploring real pathways to carbon capture and storage at our facilities.

How does International Paper’s focus on sustainability extend beyond the company’s core products and into the future? 

Just as we focus on the resilience of our business, we focus on the generational resilience of natural systems, human systems and communities. In today’s often divided and complex world, it is imperative for our employees to feel safe at work, heard and seen, and ultimately using their skills and talents in work that matters to them. Diversity of opinion and thought is essential. Without it, we won’t be able to tackle the pressing issues of our current state and the future. Guided by our Vision 2030 goal to improve the lives of 100 million people by 2030, we are extending our reach into our communities and building resilience by helping to meet their critical needs. In 2023, IP contributed nearly $20M worldwide to support charitable organizations aligned with our signature causes.