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Environment and Climate Change

By being good stewards of the environment, we help ensure our company’s long-term success while minimizing the effect our operations have on surrounding communities.

We consider ourselves fortunate to be in a business that creates useful products from trees, a remarkable, renewable resource. We're proud of the contribution we make to society — important products that make life better — while at the same time managing our forests in a sustainable way so that future generations can always depend on trees to meet their needs. Read more about our commitment to sustainable forest management here.

ENERGY

WE CREATE OUR OWN ENERGY

Making our products is energy-intensive. Fortunately, we meet most of our energy needs by using renewable and carbon-neutral biomass fuels such as bark, wood residuals and other organic byproducts of our manufacturing process. Quite simply, we turn our residuals into energy — a double win for our bottom line and the environment.

IMPROVING ENERGY EFFICIENCY

We are also working toward meeting our goal of improving our energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2020, compared with 2009 levels. Given different manufacturing processes and energy requirements, our cellulose fibers mills are focused on reducing total energy use per ton of pulp produced while our wood products facilities are focused on reducing use of fossil fuels and purchased electricity.

At the end of 2013, we improved our energy efficiency by 5 percent. Our energy efficiency improvements are a direct result of recent operational and capital improvements implemented at our mills. Our progress will continue to accelerate as additional direct and indirect energy-saving capital projects are planned for our cellulose fiber mills and wood products facilities over the next two years.

See our full energy data here.

PROVIDING GREEN ENERGY

In addition to creating our own energy, we provide green energy for others. A few examples:

  • Powering Others — We sell some of our biomass-based, renewable energy back to the market, helping make green energy more accessible to power grids across North America. In 2013, we sold some Renewable Energy Credits as a result of using renewable biomass fuels instead of fossil fuels to produce electricity.
  • Wind Power — We evaluate wind energy opportunities on our lands and have multiple agreements with wind power developers. We expect these relationships to eventually provide an additional stream of long-term revenue with minimal impact on our core business activities.
  • Geothermal Exploration — We also are exploring geothermal energy production in partnership with AltaRock and Ormat Technologies in Washington and Oregon. Once a promising area is found and drilled, water can be cycled through a closed-loop system to create steam that is used to generate electricity.

AIR QUALITY

Most of our air emissions come from burning fuel to produce energy and recover chemicals used in the pulping process. Other airborne chemicals are released during the production of wood and pulp products. We are proud that our air emissions have steadily declined over the past decade: between 2000 and 2010 we reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 55 percent, particulate matter by 49 percent, and volatile organic compounds by 33 percent.

Today, we are working toward meeting our goal of an additional 10 percent reduction of carbon monoxide and particulate matter emissions by 2020, compared with 2010 levels. By the end of 2013, pounds of carbon monoxide emitted per unit of production decreased by 2 percent, while pounds of particulate matter per unit of production increased by 3 percent (both values are compared with our 2010 baseline).

These changes are the result of process modifications and the use of lower-emitting additives as well as pollution-control equipment that captures or destroys significant amounts of emissions. We expect recent capital investments at some of our mills, including cleaner-burning incinerators, energy optimization investments, and upgrades to emission control systems, to help reduce our air emissions in future reporting years.

See our air quality data here.

WATER

More than ever, our world needs a clean and abundant water supply to sustain populations, support ecosystems and maintain a stable global economy. Luckily, we’re in the right business: well-managed forests capture vast amounts of water and are excellent water quality managers.

REDUCING WATER USE

Making pulp requires a lot of water. Our cellulose fiber mills, by far our largest water users, committed to reducing water use per ton of pulp produced by 20 percent by 2012, compared with 2007 levels. They met this first goal and set an additional goal to go further — another 12 percent by 2020. By the end of 2013, our cellulose fiber mills held their water reduction at 20 percent. Most of our reductions in water use are process improvements from a new evaporator set at one of our Canadian mills and a fiberline improvement at one of our mills in the Southeast. At the same time, one of our mills saw higher water use given cooling water requirements for a new baler. Meeting the additional 12 percent reduction goal will most likely require capital investments, such as cooling towers, and continued process improvements.

Most of the water we use is reused internally in our mills and then returned to the original water source, clean and available for the many other societal demands for water. We estimate (based on research by the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement and our own internal water-use measurements) that our cellulose fibers mills reuse, on average, each gallon of water twelve times. About 87 percent of the water we use is returned to the water supply after being treated either on-site or by a municipal treatment plant.

See our water use data here.

IMPROVING WATER QUALITY

Water use and water quality go hand in hand. Our mills use high-efficiency wastewater-treatment processes or they discharge water to public treatment facilities to remove pollutants. We secure wastewater discharge permits with stringent monitoring requirements and limits on wastewater discharge quality. Some mills use additional approaches to meet site-specific seasonal water quality needs, such as engineered wetlands, treated wastewater holding ponds that allow controlled flow to better protect receiving water quality, and injection of high-purity oxygen into treated wastewater.

Our Cellulose Fibers manufacturing facilities track their wastewater discharge and are working toward reducing biological oxygen demand (BOD) by 10 percent per ton of pulp produced by 2020, compared with 2010 levels. BOD measures the amount of oxygen required to decompose organic materials in wastewater and is a standard measure of water quality in our industry. By the end of 2013, these mills achieved a 10 percent reduction in BOD per ton of pulp compared with 2010. This is an increase in BOD from the previous two years, but is still meeting our eventual goal of a 10 percent reduction.

In our forests, we protect water quality by grading and maintaining roads to channel runoff to the forest floor (which keeps silt away from streams), building culverts and bridges to allow fish passage, and seeding exposed road banks with grasses to prevent erosion. We also have robust research and monitoring programs in place to ensure forest management practices do not harm water quantity or quality. Recently, our Western Timberlands business invested millions of dollars for road improvements to separate the road network from the stream network, resulting in improved fish passage and habitat as well as water quality.

See our water quality data here.

RESIDUALS AND WASTE

Waste is not a word we use often. We use almost every portion — close to 98 percent — of every log harvested to make our products. Wood chips left over from making lumber are used to make pulp and paper. Logs too small for dimensional lumber are processed into engineered wood products, such as oriented strand board.

We also generate a substantial amount of energy from wood residuals (what we call biomass fuels). We actively seek partners and customers who are able to use our wood residuals, who in turn create other useful products.

Combined, our efforts really add up. In 2013, more than 20 billion pounds of our residuals were reused, recycled or diverted from landfills. This amounts to 98 percent of our waste and residuals being beneficially reused or recycled.

Although our diversion rates are impressive, we know we can do even more. We have a goal to reduce the amount of material we send to landfills by 10 percent for every unit of production, compared with 2010. Over the past three years, we've seen both increases and decreases in this amount. Our 2013 result shows us at a 10 percent increase compared with our baseline. This fluctuation is primarily a result of the timing for when we send ash (produced at some of our facilities that burn biomass residuals for energy) to the landfill and the relatively small amount of landfill-bound waste we produce to begin with. While some of our mills saw an increase in landfill-bound waste, primarily in the form of ash, close to two-thirds of our mills have either decreased or stayed steady with their landfill waste since we set our goal. To meet our 10 percent reduction goal, we will need to continue finding alternative uses for our residuals and waste.

See our residual and waste data here.

CLIMATE CHANGE

We believe growing forests (which absorb carbon) and making forest products (which store carbon) are part of the solution for addressing the global challenges posed by climate change. We're also committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and limiting our use of fossil fuels by using carbon-neutral biomass for our energy needs.

CARBON SEQUESTRATION

The 20.8 million acres of forest land we manage — and the wood products we make — sequester millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. These sustainably managed forests absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow, and much of the carbon that is stored in the harvested trees continues to stay captured in our products during their useful lives. Together, our forests and products play an important role in mitigating climate change.

REDUCING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

We have a companywide goal to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2020, compared with 2000 levels. By the end of 2013, our total (or absolute) greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 28 percent from 2000. We’ve been able to achieve this reduction by consolidating operations to our higher-efficiency mills and replacing fossil fuels with carbon-neutral biomass fuels. We also have a concerted effort to produce more cogeneration electricity by installing additional turbine generation capacity at our mills. This reduces our indirect greenhouse gas impact, as well as the amount of electricity we need to purchase from the grid.

See our full greenhouse gas data here.

BIOMASS CARBON NEUTRALITY AND CLIMATE POLICY

We grow and manage an abundant, renewable resource — biomass from our sustainably managed forestlands. Biomass, which is bark, wood residuals and other organic byproducts, is derived directly from the forest or indirectly through our manufacturing processes. We believe biomass from sustainably managed forests should be a key element of renewable energy strategies since it helps reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Unlike fossil fuels that add carbon to the atmosphere from non-renewable geologic sources, carbon associated with the combustion of biomass is part of a natural cycle that maintains a neutral carbon balance. Trees, plants and soil absorb carbon. When biomass is burned, this stored carbon – which would have been emitted through natural decay — is released into the atmosphere and reabsorbed by the growing forest.

Biomass is internationally recognized as carbon-neutral by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Widely accepted science also acknowledges that the combustion of wood biomass for energy from countries with sustainable forest inventories, such as the United States, does not increase atmospheric carbon.

We are active in the policy discussion regarding climate change and renewable energy. We believe climate change-related public policies that 1) are based on sound science, 2) set clear performance objectives and standards, and 3) leverage free-market economics can achieve beneficial change with respect to energy security and greenhouse gas emissions.

We support policies that:

  • Recognize carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the combustion of biomass and biomass-derived fuels as carbon neutral.
  • Include a broad definition of “renewable biomass” that broadly recognizes renewable forest resources, including energy crops grown on forestlands and the forest product industry’s existing investment in renewable energy.
  • Establish a robust domestic and international market-based program that recognizes and allows credits for the sequestration and storage of carbon through reforestation, afforestation, avoided deforestation, harvested wood products, and forest management projects.
  • Incent and recognize combined heat and power cogeneration facilities for their inherent energy-efficiency.
  • Incorporate price mechanisms, such as no-cost carbon emission allowances, to ensure energy intensive manufacturers are not at a competitive disadvantage in international markets.
  • Provide credit for early actions, such as those taken over the past decade, that reduce GHG emissions or increase sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

RISKS AND OPPORTUNITIES

Climate change-related risks we currently assess include:

  • Public policy choices concerning biomass.
  • Proposals for carbon tax legislation at the federal, regional and state levels in the United States, as well as international climate change agreements.
  • The cost of energy and the definitions of renewable energy forms, such as biomass.
  • Physical risks of climate change, including changes in temperature and precipitation and the variability of disturbance events such as fire, flood, and hurricanes, which could affect the forests we own and manage.

Opportunities we may pursue include:

  • Developing our capability to assess the opportunities and risks of participating in carbon markets in the future.
  • Additional market opportunities for low-carbon forest-based products, both for existing product lines and for new innovations using renewable forest products. We believe forests and related biomass can be a prime source of raw material for a variety of products that will benefit an economy striving for the use of renewable and low-carbon products.

We provide more details regarding these risks and opportunities in our Annual Report as well in our response to the CDP Climate Change questionnaire.

GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY METHODOLOGY

Our estimates of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration represent our corporate carbon scope 1 (direct) and scope 2 (purchased electricity) inventory. They do not include emissions not owned or controlled by Weyerhaeuser.

Our greenhouse gas inventory process adheres to the guidelines published by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative's Greenhouse Gas Protocol, Revised Edition, and its associated calculation tools that are relevant to our operations. Following the protocol, adjustments to the baseline year and subsequent years’ data have been made on a whole-year basis for divestments and acquisitions affecting our greenhouse gas inventory. The absolute value of our entire greenhouse gas emission inventory can change as a result of these adjustments.

Because we sell Renewable Energy Credits, we are required to account for the greenhouse gas emissions that would have been produced by including them in our inventory.

We know that forests sequester and release carbon in variable amounts over time. The rate of forest carbon sequestration is subject to seasonal variation, annual variation due to climate and disturbance impacts, age-related variation due to the natural cycle of tree growth, and effects from forest management practices such as fertilization and harvesting. The U.S. Department of Energy 1605(b) guidelines affirm that sustainably managed forests balance harvest and growth cycles over time and landscape and can be considered carbon neutral, meaning the carbon that is released from harvesting is offset by the growth of the remaining trees. To quantify the amount of long-term forest products carbon stored in our products — which we call Product Sequestration — we use a third-party, 100-year-decay method.

Chemicals

Reducing chemical risk is a continued focus for us. Our chemical management program works hand-in-hand with our product stewardship program, where we integrate environmental, health and safety considerations into our products, from product design to end of life.

Companywide, we focus on reducing chemical risk through:

  • Reducing the overall number of chemicals used, including reducing and eliminating the use of certain high-risk chemicals and products containing chemicals, such as PCBs, asbestos, lead-based paints, and aerosols.
  • Seeking less-hazardous substitutes for chemicals and implementing their use across the company.
  • Continuing our chemical-reduction efforts through improved inventory management of all chemical products and better Safety Data Sheet management.

Every year, we report the release of certain chemicals into the air, water and land under the U.S. Toxic Release Inventory (search for 'Facility Name' containing "Weyerhaeuser") and the Canadian National Pollutant Release Inventory (search for "Weyerhaeuser" in Facility Name). With rare exceptions, these are lawfully permitted releases that are made in a controlled fashion after steps have been taken to reduce the emissions and mitigate their effects. Both inventories mandate that we report total emissions without regard to changes in production levels.

We also provide detailed information for our Kenora Timberstrand facility under Ontario's Toxic Substance Accounting program:

Last updated June 20, 2014