A Q+A with Sustana Group CEO and Chairman Fabian de Armas
Sustana Group recently released its 2019 sustainability strategy, showcasing the true impact of its environmental stewardship and announcing big steps toward an even smaller ecological footprint. Fabian de Armas, CEO and Chairman of Sustana Group, shares his insights on the company’s strategy and sustainability highlights.
1. Why did Sustana Group decide to create a sustainability strategy? What impact do you hope this has?
Sustainability is simply ingrained in everything we do, and transparency and credible, science-based information have been key in getting us here. We’re leading the charge in sustainable innovation and environmental stewardship, and we believe this new strategy will take us to the next level. In addition to setting baseline measurements to track our progress, we believe the goals outlined in our strategy will ultimately help drive our mission of being better for business, better for the environment and better for society at large.
2. What are your top sustainability priorities for 2019?
Our holistic approach to sustainability focuses on three main priority areas where we can make a difference:
- Environmental Stewardship
- Thriving Workplace and Communities
- Circular Value Chain and Products
In 2019, we’re excited to start working to meet the collaborative, relevant and multi-sectoral goals we set in our sustainability strategy. We’re passionate in our commitment to a sustainable, closed loop fiber future.
3. With operations in the U.S. and Canada, how does Sustana Group make sustainability a company-wide priority?
As a company, we’re committed to industry-leading product quality, continuous improvement and environmental stewardship. This mission is driven by our employees, who help us promote a culture of constant innovation. In fact, the idea of using biogas to fuel paper production came from a former employee acting on his own curiosity and passion.
I’m proud to say Rolland is the only North American paper manufacturer using biogas energy, which powers 93 percent of the mill’s energy needs. This reduces our annual carbon dioxide emissions by 70,000 tons—that’s the equivalent of taking over 23,000 compact cars off the road.
In terms of production, our state-of-the-art fiber facilities and paper mills in the U.S. and Canada are uniquely equipped for environmentally-friendly operation. They follow proprietary processes to sustainably manufacture premium, sustainable recycled fibers and paper products with the smallest environmental footprint.
Each year, Sustana Fiber, recycles enough paper to fill over 4,700 fifty-foot rail cars from end-to-end and reduce landfill space by over 1 million cubic yards. By using recycled materials, Sustana Fiber saves over 4 million trees annually, while producing approximately 500 million pounds of premium, recycled fiber used to make paper, food packaging and tissue products.
4. What are some recent improvements the company has made in sustainability?
We are consistently innovating our operations. Between 2015 and 2016, we increased our reuse of recovered fiber by 26 percent at our Fox River facility. Instead of sending this waste to landfill, we reuse it for animal bedding, grass seed coating or landfarming. At the Breakeyville facility, 100 percent of recovered fiber is used for landfarming.
We also updated all light ballasts in Rolland’s Production Mill to reduce electricity consumption by 90 percent last year.
We’re extremely passionate about sustainable food packaging, so Sustana Fiber invested in specialized machinery, allowing us to overcome a longstanding challenge: the fiber recovery of single use coffee cups. Historically, paper takeaway cups haven’t been accepted by many recycling facilities due to their plastic coating, but our upgrades have made it possible to turn used paper cups into new, sustainable cups as part of our successful Cup-to-Cup Project – a collaboration between supply chain partners. Now, we’re processing these cups in an environmentally responsible way, allowing them to re-emerge as clean, safe fiber used to make new cups from 100 percent post-consumer content. Our EnviroLife fiber is the only 100 percent post-consumer recycled fiber that is compliant with FDA standards for food grade packaging for direct food contact under all conditions of use.
5. Why is this measurement + goal setting important? How does it benefit your clients + customers?
Measuring and setting goals related to the environmental impacts of our operations helps us take key steps that affect long-term results for our business, and our customers. We don’t have to make empty claims about our processes and products because the facts are backed by proof and our dedication to sustainability is communicated with transparency. By committing to continuous improvement and environmental stewardship, we can provide visibility and transparency to our customers and be an enduring supply chain partner while addressing today’s social and environmental challenges.
Sustana Group’s strategy aims to close the fiber loop through purpose-driven innovation, collaboration and systemic change. By providing a comprehensive, sustainable pulp and paper solution for customers throughout North America, Sustana Group is acting today for a better tomorrow. To learn more about Sustana Group and its sustainability goals, see the full strategy here.