Environmental awards recognise excellence and raise environmental awareness. They also demonstrate the wider commitment a specific industry sector has to environmental improvement.
The WWF Environmental Paper Awards are a special set of prizes for the paper industry to acknowledge continual improvements and in 2016, the WWF recognised 124 companies.
Of these, 106 are paper brands that have improved their environmental performance, and five are paper producers who have impressed the WWF with their product transparency.
The other thirteen awards went to paper producers and merchants who demonstrated continual environmental improvement. This is quite a haul of gongs, so although the paper industry is in some sectors and geographies slow to change, overall it appears to be progressing at a decent clip.
The WWF Environmental Paper Awards are not just about recycling. They are intended to encourage companies in the paper supply chain to reduce their overall environmental footprints. This includes the environmental impacts they have on forests, water and the “climate footprint of paper production”.
Contenders for the Best Environmental Performance Paper Brands offer eco rated papers and are audited. Winners must achieve 80% of the total possible score and this year eight companies reached the top tier. They are Antalis McNaughton, Arjowiggins Graphic, LEIPA, Mondi (Fine Paper), SCA (Graphic paper and Newsprint), Sofidel, Steinbeis and UPM (Graphic Paper).
The winners of the Transparency prizes are Arjowiggins Graphic, LEIPA, Mondi (Fine Paper), SCA (Graphic Paper and Newsprint) and Steinbeis. The thirteen companies who won in the Striving For Continual Improvement category were recognised for their proactivity in calculating the forest, water and climate footprints of their various brands.
These winners are Appleton Coated, BillerudKorsnäs, Burgo, Denmaur, Fedrigoni, Lecta, Lucart, Metsä Tissue, Mondi (Packaging), PaperWise, Rolland Enterprises, Södra Cell and Van Houtum.
These awards demonstrate that wood based products can be environmentally sound, supporting green economies and the use of renewable resources. They underscore the need for proactive forest and water management and the need for accountability in product footprints.
But environmental awareness is about more than awards. Print buyers, developers and users of printing equipment need better tools to evaluate the environmental impact of their investment decisions.
ISO standards such as ISO 21331 for assessing the deinkability potential of print can help, but a deeper and wider conversation between the paper and printing industries, and with other graphics professionals would help much more.
Perhaps the WWF should consider expanding the scope of their awards to include more pulp and paper companies, as well as graphics companies further along the print media supply chain. There shall be prizes for all!