Weyerhaeuser Pledges to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 40%

Weyerhaeuser Pledges to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 40%

Weyerhaeuser has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2020 while reducing its reliance on high-priced fossil fuels. The company will increase use of biomass as fuel in the boilers that generate steam and electrical energy in its pulp and paper mills, say corporate officials.

Biomass fuel consists of bark, lignin (the substance that binds wood fibers) and other organics in spent pulping chemicals. When biomass comes from sustainably managed forests, burning it has a neutral effect on greenhouse gas emissions. The regenerating forest absorbs the carbon dioxide released by burning the fuel. By contrast, the carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuel is not offset.

Weyerhaeuser's pulp and paper mills already generate 72% of their energy from biomass. This new initiative will raise this percentage, further moderating the effects of volatile oil and gas prices. Pulp mills, in particular, have the potential to become energy self-sufficient.

In addition to substituting biomass fuel for fossil fuels, Weyerhaeuser will improve energy efficiency and install cleaner-burning boilers.

"This is a win-win for shareholders and the environment," says Ernesta Ballard, senior vice president, corporate affairs. "Shareholders benefit from lower energy costs, and the environment benefits from lower emissions of greenhouse gas."

According to Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute, "What Weyerhaeuser has done is exemplary, and it deserves to be recognized. Not only is the reduction of 40% one of the largest in the private sector, it is global in scope. As important, Weyerhaeuser is doing this in a way that makes a permanent difference -- making changes in how their facilities operate."

The greenhouse gas reductions will be measured relative to Weyerhaeuser's emissions in 2000 and assume a comparable portfolio and regulations. Progress toward the commitment will be reported in the company's annual sustainability report.

Weyerhaeuser's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are described in more detail in its 2005 sustainability report, which was released today. The report describes the company's environmental, social and economic performance in 2005. For example, the company:
  • Sequestered 2.6 times more carbon, primarily in wood products, than it emitted last year
  • Reduced air and water emissions, measured per ton of production that are tracked by the U.S. and Canadian governments
  • Recovered 6.7 million tons of used paper, or 13% of the total recycled in the United States
  • Has obtained independent certification that 1) all of the forests it manages or owns in North America meet the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard or the Canadian Standards Association sustainable forest management standard; and 2) all of its primary mills in the United States meet the procurement provisions of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard
The full report is available online.