International Paper: the World’s Largest Buyer of Forestry Products (May 2012)

May 2012

International Paper is probably the world’s largest paper manufacturer with 2011 revenues in excess of 25 billion USD, supplying paper packaging to leading brands like McDonalds, Subway and Starbucks as well as being a huge supplier of copier and printing paper.  The company restructured in the mid 2000s, shifting away from owning and managing forests to producing finished goods.  As such it is probably the world’s largest buyer of raw forestry products (logs, pulp, timber).  As a long time industry player it has had its fair share of environmental controversy and along with all leading industry players has embarked on its path towards sustainability. 

The company recently released its 2011 Sustainability Report that showcases the company's new suite of 12 voluntary sustainability goals. The company expects to reach a number of goals by 2020, which include a “15% global increase in third party certified fiber volume”.  In terms of specifics of the use of standards, the company states that it uses third party standards (FSC, PEFC, SFI) where available.   Thus while it does not guarantee 100% of its supply is to these three globally accepted standards, it is clear this is the direction it is headed.  A check of SFI, FSC and PEFC certifications the company holds indicates the company’s Chinese operations do not hold any such certifications – perhaps an area of work at present given PEFC’s recent work towards including China into its global network.  International Paper’s policy on standards is stated as follows.  A list of certificates can be seen on its homepage. 

“As a global company, International Paper uses third-party certification, chain-of-custody and internationally recognized forest certification standards in all of our operations.

“International Paper recognizes the following certification standards for use in our global operations:


  • Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is a global umbrella organization that certifies national certification standards and supports the promotion of sustainable forest management and chain-of-custody.
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a globally recognized system that uses regionally developed forest management standards and includes chain-of-custody.
  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative is a North American standard which includes provisions for forest management, fiber procurement and chain-of-custody, and is internationally recognized by PEFC.
  • Cerflor, the Brazilian Program of Forest certification is a Brazilian national standard that includes forest management and chain-of-custody and is recognized by PEFC.
  • In countries or regions of the world that do not have established certification standards, International Paper will implement ISO 14001 environmental management systems on the wood or fiber purchasing systems for our facilities.”


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