WWF and international paper and packaging conglomerate Mondi Group announced Wednesday that they have formed a three-year strategic partnership aimed at increasing environmental stewardship in the packaging and paper sectors.
The project will see the two parties focusing on minimizing the impacts of Mondi’s operations on forests, climate and water, and fostering sustainable practices in the industry. WWF says the partnership, which links one of the largest packaging, pulp and paper producers in the world with the world’s largest conservation organization, sends a strong signal that prioritizing environmental sustainability makes good business sense.
“As population grows and competition for land increases, forest-based industries that rely on renewable resources can play an important role in protecting and managing vital ecosystems,” says Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International. “Companies like Mondi that choose to contribute to sustainable resource use and nature conservation are ensuring their own long-term viability, while contributing to the well-being of people and the planet today.”
The program will work to foster stewardship in three main areas:
- Ecosystems — building on the successful Mondi Wetlands Programme in South Africa, this work will focus on protecting high conservation value (HCV) ecosystems in Russia and other regions, and increasing the value and resilience of multi-functional production landscapes in South Africa.
- Manufacturing — further reducing the water and climate footprint of Mondi’s operations and promoting resource efficiency, recycling and longevity of products, including the cascading use of wood and forest products where appropriate.
- Products — further enhancing the environmental performance of Mondi’s products through, among others, credible certification and efficient life-cycle use of materials in their paper and packaging products.
Mondi Group CEO David Hathorn says, “Mondi and WWF have a successful association working together on projects. This international partnership enables us to join forces on a larger scale. Sustainable development is integral to our business, and we are very pleased to be working with WWF as we continue to reduce our footprint and share responsible practices across our industry and beyond.”
WWF is engaging a number of key players in the global pulp and paper industry in an effort to support their attention to environmental sustainability, while pushing for continued improvement: The NGO cautiously welcomed a first attempt at a Sustainable Forest Management Policy released last month by Indonesian pulp and paper giant Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL). WWF notes that APRIL's commitment to support forest conservation areas equal in size to its plantations sets a new standard for the pulp and paper industry in Indonesia, but is concerned about certain loopholes in the policy.
WWF was also tentatively optimistic about a more robust commitment released last year by APRIL counterpart Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) — the largest paper company in Indonesia and one of the largest in the world — in which the company committed to ceasing deforestation in Indonesia. But the nonprofit went on to urge APP to agree to a list of performance targets in order to improve its current status as one of the world’s most notorious deforesters and back up its commitment to become an environmentally and socially responsible company.