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Weyerhaeuser: the benefits of being green: while it may not be easy being green, Weyerhaeuser has found that investing in the environment pays off--sometimes in unexpected ways.

Weyerhaeuser Company was an environmental leader before most people even knew what the term meant. Well before the dawn of the modern environmental movement, and as far back as 1937, Weyerhaeuser began to develop many of the principles of modern sustainable forestry. In 1941, the company established the first tree farm in the United States, in southwest Washington.

The company has also been a leader in implementing pollution control technology in its facilities. Since 1990, Weyerhaeuser's pulp and paper mills have reduced chloroform emissions by 90%, adsorbable organic halides (AOX) by 88%, chemical oxygen demand (COD) by 75%, total suspended solids (TSS) by 45% and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) by 30%.

Today, the company's environmental leadership is recognized not only within the industry but by independent sources as well. In October 2001, the company was named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes (DJSI World) for the second year in a row based on its commitment to excellence in five principles: innovation, governance, shareholders, leadership and society. The DJSI World tracks the performance of more than 200 companies front 64 industry groups in 33 countries that "lead the field" in corporate sustainability on a global basis. Corporate sustainability is defined by DJSI as "a business approach to create long-term shareholder value by embracing opportunities and managing risks deriving from economic, environmental and social developments."

Earlier, Weyerhaeuser was named the top North American company in Innovest's Forest Products Industry Ecovalue 21[TM] March 2000 report, which assesses environmental management and performance using approximately 60 variables, both quantitative and qualitative. Innovest's basic premise is that companies with superior environmental performance also excel in other areas, such as financial results.


Much of Weyerhaeuser's current environmental management is based on a plan put in place five years ago. In 1997, Weyerhaeuser set an environmental management system (EMS) standard at its business units. An EMS is a systematic approach to implementing environmental policy in all aspects of a unit's operations, combining policy, planning, implementation, continuous improvement and management review in one system based on reliable, documented processes.

Today, thousands of Weyerhaeuser employees--from foresters to millwrights, engineers, and managers--implement the EMS standard at their individual business units. Weyerhaeuser environmental specialists work cooperatively with its operations staff to assess and manage environmental issues. Members of its environment, health and safety team serve as educators, auditors, government liaisons and informational resources for the operations team.

Weyerhaeuser regularly monitors and tracks environmental performance internal]y through an environmental auditing process that includes self-assessments, compliance audits and detailed environmental process reviews.

Weyerhaeuser has committed to using the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 environmental management system, which it believes is best suited to help ensure that Weyerhaeuser's global operations meet respected environmental standards. These standards include the Sustainable Forestry InitiativeSM (SFI) and the Canadian Standard Association (CSA) Sustainable Forest Management System standard. The ISO is a global nongovernmental organization composed of national standards groups from 120 countries and liaison organizations. For example, the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) represent the United States in the ISO.

Weyerhaeuser's goal is for all of its timberlands and manufacturing units to use an EMS capable of being certified to the ISO14001 standard. Weyerhaeuser believes that ISO 14001 will help it continuously improve its performance in practicing sustainable forestry, reducing pollution and conserving natural resources.


To find out how Weyerhaeuser manages its environmental performance, Solutions! interviewed Sara Schreiner Kendall, vice president of environment, health and safety for Weyerhaeuser Co., Federal Way, Washington, USA. Kendall stressed that Weyerhaeuser's environmental performance is an integral part of the company's three-tiered business philosophy.

"Sustainability revolves around a 'triple bottom line,' which is based on how we manage our financial, social and environmental responsibilities," said Kendall. "Weyerhaeuser is serious about its commitment to shareholders, the communities we do business in, and the environment, we fully believe that this is the right thing to do as well as the financially responsible thing to do. This is what makes Weyerhaeuser a more sustainable company. We are 100 years old and have every expectation of being around for at least another 100 years."

According to Kendall, inclusion in the DJSI World provides a third-party validation that the company has been making the right management decisions, it also confirms the company's overall strength and foundation as an "investable" company.

Regarding its social and community commitments, Weyerhaeuser operates under a business ethics policy and code of conduct. It ranked No. 1 in the forest products industry in "social responsibility" in Fortune magazine's annual corporate reputation survey for performance for seven straight years, from 1994 through 2000, and received the American Business Ethics Award for public companies from the American Society of Chartered Life Under writers and Chartered Financial Consultants in 1997.

Kendall also pointed out that employee safety is a major priority for the company. "Everything we do starts with working safely. 'Safe from the start'--that's our philosophy. That's both the right thing to do and a good financial strategy because it reduces our potential risks and liabilities."


Weyerhaeuser focuses its business improvement efforts on what it calls its "Roadmap for Success." The company has developed specific measures targeted at each objective. One of the key action items is to deploy an EMS throughout every operating unit within Weyerhaeuser.

"We began this process five years ago. I was part of the group that began looking at environmental management systems," said Kendall. "As we've gone deeper into the process, we've discovered more of its strategic and competitive benefits. Instead of creating a set of manuals that sit on a shelf, our goal has been to create environmental management systems that are truly integrated with our operations' business management systems. That requires a new approach to doing business. For example, instead of a manager thinking, 'I'm running my pulp mill and that other department takes care of environmental performance,' the goal is for everyone at Weyerhaeuser to understand the connection of their job to environmental performance, and how we can collectively improve it."


Weyerhaeuser bases its commitment to using the EMS standard on a philosophy of seeking new ways of protecting the environment. It is based on moving from the "command and control" of inflexible government regulation to a more cooperative, problem-solving approach that emphasizes creating broad environmental goals and allowing companies to develop process changes that reach those goals.

Developing an EMS requires a long-term commitment, said Kendall. "You don't roll it out in one year and call it done. It's very a deliberate effort. We have a timeline with the goal of having every box plant, recycling center, forestland, and pulp and paper mill operating under an EMS.

The company's standard is to have every EMS aligned with the ISO 14001 environmental management system standard so that it can be certified if the business unit chooses to do so. "We have left it to the business units to decide whether or not to undertake a third party verification based on customer needs and business strategies."

For example, the Weyerhaeuser timberlands group--based on its business priorities--decided to seek third-party certification of all its operations under the ISO 14001 standard. To date, more than 26.3 million acres (10.5 million hectares) of the forests Weyerhaeuser manages in Canada, the United States and New Zealand have been certified to the ISO 14001, SFI and/or CSA standards.

Other business units have taken a different approach. For example, some Weyerhaeuser sawmills and pulp and paper mills have chosen to be registered to ISO, but others have not.


One of the major benefits of the EMS process is that everyone within Weyerhaeuser understands the reasons behind the company's environmental mission and how it works on a grass roots level, according to Kendall.

"There was a preparedness audit at a mill recently with a team of about 20 salaried and hourly people, plus people from other operations," she related. "They were having a group discussion about a detailed part of the EMS, and everyone was participating. Ten years ago, one or maybe two of the people at that table would have understood the discussion--today everyone does."

Another major benefit of the EMS is that its disciplined approach encourages people who work in different departments to discuss issues they might not otherwise deal with.

"At one of the first operations to be audited, I had a conversation with two people whose offices were right down the hall from each other, but had not talked with each other in detail about their respective department's activities. Now they were wrestling with ISO 14001 and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative [a certification program for members of the American Forest & Paper Association]. They were able to interact in a new and highly productive way. One of the gentlemen told me, 'I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I now understand better what his department is doing and he understands better what my department is doing--we figured out there was a different way that we both could be working and we saved a fair amount of money. That has turned out to be an unexpected benefit of this process. We have people having conversations and dialogue in a structured way that they never did before."


Weyerhaeuser has found that its EMS approach has helped it work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has traditionally been viewed as an adversary by many paper companies.

"In many cases, we do not control the environmental agenda--the EPA does," said Kendall. "However, we have found through the EMS process that there are better ways to work with EPA. For example, our Flint River Mill in Oglethorpe, Georgia, is involved in a Project XL agreement with EPA, which is a model cooperative approach for companies to work on regulatory issues. Using an EMS is one of the expectations of the agreement."

Project XL (which stands for eXcellence and Leadership), allows companies to test different approaches that achieve cleaner and less expensive environmental results than would be realized under existing requirements. Under this particular agreement, the Flint River mill is striving to minimize the environmental impact of its manufacturing processes on the Flint River and surrounding environment. Weyerhaeuser has decreased the mill's water usage while meeting or exceeding all regulatory targets.

"As part of this process, we were able to develop data and good science and demonstrate to EPA that because of the way the mill was configured, its regulations were going to require us to put on control devices for certain regulated sources. We told EPA that approach would cost us more than $10 million, but that we could produce the same benefit if we controlled a different pollution source that EPA did not name in its regulatory standard. As a result, we achieved the same regulatory objective more effectively and efficiently."


As a forest products company and a major landowner, Weyerhaeuser understands that its future success depends on the stewardship it provides today. "Wood is a renewable resource, and wood products are biodegradable and recyclable," said Kendall. "If we use this resource wisely and with care for the environment, we can support a perpetual, sustainable cycle of development, use and renewal while conserving natural resources."
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Title Annotation:Company Profile
Author:Rooks, Alan
Publication:Solutions - for People, Processes and Paper
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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