As one of the leading tissue paper manufacturers in the world, highly committed to sustainability, Sofidel is well aware of how forest resources are critical for its responsible supplying, the livelihood of local communities, and for the conservation of biodiversity at large. The predominant use of raw material composed of virgin wood fibers and the knowledge of the role that forests play in protecting the global environment and in enriching biodiversity have all been crucial in making Sofidel to adopt and implement a dedicated policy in its sourcing of virgin wood pulp.
Forest and forest products are the most important component for the paper and pulp industry that not only impacts but also depends upon forests ecosystems, their biodiversity and ecosystem services. The large consumption of virgin wood pulp and the awareness of the role forests play in global environmental protection, encouraged Sofidel Group to adopt a specific forest product sourcing policy to maintain or even increase forest biodiversity, productivity, and ecological processes.
Sofidel is a company producing Fast Moving Consumer Good (FMCG) with a process that entails an important consumption of forest based raw materials. This implies that the perception of consumers regarding both the company and the products is nowadays heavily influenced by the sustainability profile and performances of the company itself. Since Sofidel has an important responsibility throughout the supply chain, the expectations of consumers/customers about any form of commitment on good forest practices are high. A good example of this fact is represented by the increase of market share of eco-labelled products and the growing numbers of laws for forest protections. For these reasons, any factor that can negatively affect the sustainability performances of our paper products and processes, included loss of biodiversity, is considered like an operational, regulatory and reputational risk for the company. Although, based on the published literature, there is no conclusive, quantitative evidence about the effect of forest certification on biodiversity, it seems to be a vision shared by many authors that good forest management practices associated with forest certification appear to benefit biodiversity in managed forests.
Sofidel believes that its commitment to increase the amount of available forest raw materials with Chain of Custody certification, is an important step for biodiversity conservation in the forest environment and for company risks reduction.
In particular, through its forest product sourcing policy: Sofidel condemns the practice of illegal felling, the conversion of natural forest into plantation and takes measure to ensure that its suppliers can prove the source of the timber used to produce pulp; Sofidel is committed to verify, as far as possible, the existence of social conflicts in the location where the wood originates, avoid purchasing from these areas, from protected zone or from genetically modified organism; Sofidel believes in the use of sustainable forest management system, certified in accordance with internationally recognized, credible schemes based on audit by independent third parties; Sofidel encourages its suppliers to certify the source of their forestry resources and gives priority to suppliers who can provide Sofidel with certificates of good forestry management.
To put its forest policy into effect Sofidel also signed an agreementwith WWF Italy in 2011, implemented with the aim to include the forest practices as one of the condition to be met for the wider agreement between WWF International and Sofidel called “Climate Savers”. The objectives of this agreement are:
- Sofidel commits itself to reach an overall target of purchasing 95% of the total virgin fiber acquired over the three year period 2012-2014 from FSC, FSC CW, PEFC certified sources or sources meeting any standard recognized as valid by WWF international, by maintaining the current percentage of FSC and FSC CW certified pulp. In addition Sofidel undertakes to check with WWF Italy the possibility to move as much as possible the percentage of non-certified fibre into FSC CW by 2015;
- For the raw material that does not have any of the certification referred into paragraph 1) Sofidel undertakes to avoid purchasing from countries or district defined as at high forestry risk and listed in a list of critical areas agreed between Sofidel and WWF Italy;
- Sofidel recognizes all the forest management schemes referred to paragraph 1 unless the raw material comes from countries or district which give insufficient guarantees. In this case Sofidel will give priority to the purchase of raw material certified FSC COC or FSC CW.
To achieve the above-mentioned targets, Sofidel has put in place a precise purchasing strategy that foresees a qualification of pulp suppliers aimed at selecting the ones with higher environmental and social performances and carrying out an accurate forest risk assessment.
Every year Sofidel sends to pulp suppliers a questionnaire with the following requests:
- Name of the manufacturer of pulp and the name and address of the manufacturing plant;
- Geographical origin of the wood used for the production of cellulose and indication of the sub-national region of origin;
- Indication of the percentage of wood associated with the geographical origin;
- Indication of the type of wood used (common name and, where applicable, the scientific name);
- Indication of the main steps in the logistics chain, from the origin of the timber to the stage of pulp and paper production;
- Certificates of forest management and chain of custody forest owned by the manager of the forest resource and the producer of pulp;
- Documents or other information indicating compliance of the harvested wood with the applicable legislation;
- Human rights and working conditions;
- Health and safety aspects;
- Corporate ethics and corruption;
- CSR management.
Once received back the questionnaire, Sofidel checks the correct fulfillment of the questions, performs the risk assessment for each raw material and arranges for the archiving both paper and electronic questionnaires. Risk assessment is conducted following the guidelines and the criteria indicated by community regulations and laws, like the EU-Timber Regulation n° 995/2010, and by international standards of Chain of Custody FSC and PEFC. The risk assessment evaluates the procurement risk from illegal sourcing concerning wood supply, pulp supply, tree species, supply chain evaluation and complexity of supply chain itself. FSC certificates and PEFC certificates of pulp suppliers are used as further tools of risk mitigation. This helps Sofidel to avoid purchasing pulp from risky countries to minimize the reputational risk.
During 2014Sofidel purchased 932,808 ADMT (air dry metric tons) of virgin fiber (used entirely within the Group) and confirmed its commitment to the responsible provision of raw materials, purchasing 99.7% of wood pulp certified with internationally recognized forestry chain of custody schemes. Sofidel every year increases constantly the certified articles production driven by market demand that more often asks for paper articles with forest certifications.This has lead pulp producers to a better and deeper cooperation with Sofidel commitment, and in time they have demonstrated more availability to provide evidences and documents that show the legality and sustainability of their activities.
Sofidel also keeps selecting geographic areas that provide full assurance of legality and sustainability: the predominance of European material (56%) confirms this approach. A further step forward in the commitment to sustainable development and transparent information disclosure was taken in June 2014, by joining the CDP Forests Report: “Deforestation-free supply chains: from commitments to action.” After the first evaluation of the company performance, Sofidel achieved a score of 89.70%, a result that places it above the sector average.