Sustainable Packaging and Paper Manufacturer DS Smith Highlights the Circular Nature of the Forestry Supply Chain in Georgia
As global brands and investors look to draw down the overall carbon footprint of their businesses, the concept of the circular economy is rising to the top. The principles of the circular economy are focused on minimizing waste and maximizing efficiency. Thanks to the leadership of the forestry sector in Georgia and the United States for generations, circularity aligns directly with modern forest management and the “zero waste” ethos of the forestry manufacturing process. DS Smith is a packaging and paper manufacturer headquartered the UK. In Riceboro, Georgia, the company owns timberland in addition to a sawmill and pulp and paper mill that produces linerboard for corrugated cardboard boxes. The land, managed in close proximity to the mill, is emblematic of the forestry supply chain in Georgia, and it can serve as a shining example of the sustainability and renewability of forestry.
GROW Managing the Forest Georgia is blessed with more than 22 million acres of commercially available, privately owned timberland. As family forest landowners and corporate forest landowners, like DS Smith, manage the land, they are contributing their own resources to reduce the forests’ susceptibility to wildfire, pests and disease. While the trees are growing, the process of photosynthesis is converting CO2 to oxygen and storing carbon in the fiber of the tree.
As rain falls, the forest is cleaning and filtering water that eventually turns into drinking water. And, at every stage of the forest’s life cycle, it is supporting habitat for a myriad of wildlife. DS Smith owns over 18,000 acres of timberland across southeast Georgia, and the company’s active management of this land is contributing to society above and beyond the products it produces.
HARVEST Using Every Part of the Tree Many tenets of the circular economy are already applied in the forest sector. Wood products used for construction purposes contribute to a lower carbon footprint of buildings. Wood, cellulose and its derivates (such as lignin) are a viable substitute for non-renewable materials (like plastic). By-products from the manufacturing process — like bark, sawdust and shavings — are used to produce energy for the mill and the surrounding community. Finally, paper products are recyclable, and Georgia ranks third in the U.S. for paper-based recycling. Each year, DS Smith sustainably harvests 60-70,000 tons of timber from its 18,000 acres of commercial timberland in southeast Georgia. The wood is used in combination with recycled paper to create sustainable material that is used to package and ship common household products all over the world.
REPLANT Starting Anew With a Seedling So familiar to the forestry industry yet invisible to most Georgians is the reforestation process. Georgia leads the nation in the number of seedlings grown in the state for reforestation at more than 331 million seedlings annually. Pictured here, on DS Smith’s Sansavilla tract just outside of Brunswick, the company recently planted 125 acres of loblolly pine seedlings from its reforestation partner, ArborGen — part of 500,000 pine seedlings on 700 acres.
“The ArborGen seedlings, to reforest tracts that have been harvested, arrived in Greencoat boxes produced in our Columbia, SC, packaging facility, which uses paper that was produced at the Riceboro Mill. So, it is fair to say that there’s fiber that we grew in the paper that is bringing the seedlings for the next generation of boxes.” said Bill Guthrie, general manager at DS Smith (pictured). ■
Georgia Forestry Magazine is published by HL Strategy, an integrated marketing and communications firm focused on our nation's biggest challenges and opportunities. Learn more at hlstrategy.com