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For the pioneering company, and the first pulp and paper maker in South America to earn FSC certification, their commitment to sustainability has continued to offer benefits for more than 15 years. Article written by David DudenhoeferIvone Namikawa, a forester with the Brazilian paper and cardboard manufacturer Klabin who played a central role in getting the company’s forestry operations Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certified, is proud of her employer’s commitment to sustainability and social responsibility.“Working for a company that is environmentally responsible and beneficial for the community is very important for me,” she said, adding that most of her colleagues share her sense of pride. Klabin’s commitment has been recognized in Brazil and beyond: by local communities, the businesses sector and paper-product markets. The Brazilian business magazine Exame listed Klabin as one of the country’s best companies to work for in 2014, whereas the business magazine Carta Capital has voted it one of the most admired companies for the past three years.Such recognition didn’t come overnight, however. Founded in 1899 and operating with 100% Brazilian capital, Klabin is the country’s largest paper producer and exporter and leading manufacturer of paper and board for packaging, corrugated cardboard and industrial sacks produced in 15 industrial plants – 14 in Brazil and one in Argentina. It was the first pulp and paper company in South America to earn an FSC certification, in 1998, and since of 2009, all of its forestry operations and its entire chain of custody are FSC certified. Like the rest of Brazil’s paper and cardboard industry, Klabin relies solely on tree plantations for pulp.The company has been a pioneer in sustainable natural resource management, good worker and community relations and conservation. More than 40 percent of Klabin’s approximately 500,000 hectares of land is dedicated to conserving native forest, which holds more than 1,200 plant and 750 animal species, whereas most of the rest is covered with eucalyptus and pine plantations that are managed in compliance with the FSC standard.Klabin’s commitment to sustainability is complemented by its treatment of people. The company provides housing for hundreds of families in communities with modern schools and ample public spaces. It has also promoted tree farming by landowners in the area of its main plant, in Telêmaco Borba, Paraná, helping farmers there to plant 60,000 hectares of eucalyptus and pine on their land. It also has a program to help farmers get their tree farms FSC certified, so that they can sell timber to Klabin and other mills in the region.Namikawa explained that while agriculture is the most common activity in that region, the land there is best suited for forestry, because of the soil and topography. She added that Klabin could have simply bought more land to plant trees on, but that wouldn’t have had the same social impact.“We want to change the culture and provide income opportunities in our region. The people participating in this program are important stakeholders for us. They are part of the community and they are defending the company,” she said.“Wherever I represent the company in forums, I find that Klabin is more and more respected by other businesses and organizations, and I think that FSC has been important in helping Klabin get recognition for its good work,” Namikawa affirmed.According to Edgard Avezum, Klabin’s Commercial Director, the original decision to seek FSC certification was driven by the Klabin family’s concern about the environment, but over the past decade, it has proven to be a very good business decision.Klabin produces approximately 1.9 million tons of paper products per year, including liquid packaging board (LPB), which is used to make beverage cartons and comparable packaging. For more than three decades, Klabin has sold LPB to Tetra Pak, which has been a global leader in the use of FSC certified wood fiber, but according to Avezum, few other packaging companies were interested in the FSC logo ten years ago. He explained that interest in FSC certified paperboard grew slowly for much of the past decade, but in recent years, a growing number of customers have come to demand it.“I would say that FSC certification is important for more than 80% of our sales. When we talk to people in the food industry, it is becoming obligatory,” Avezum said. Many of Klabin’s customers are packaging manufacturers, but some of the food and beverage companies that they sell to see the FSC seal as a way to engage consumers. Marcelle Peuckert, FSC Business Development Director, explained that online consumer research that FSC International undertook last year in 11 markets revealed that consumers are quite concerned about issues such as climate change and environmental pollution, and that 80% of them believe that companies should be responsible for solving such problems. But because consumers don’t always believe what companies tell them, third party certifications are increasingly important.“More than half of the consumers we surveyed believe that certification seals like FSC are the most trusted information on these issues,” Peuckert said. She added that consumer recognition of the FSC logo has grown significantly in recent years, reaching more than 50 percent in markets such as Germany and UK. For FSC certified companies like Klabin, that recognition has already resulted in a market advantage.“A significant part of our paperboard sales are leveraged by this certification,” Avezum said. “FSC certification has definitely helped Klabin to grow.”
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