Traditionally, the FPP industry has responded defensively or tactically to sustainability concerns, by focusing on legal compliance, fending off campaign groups, and adopting external certification standards. However, maintaining a sustainable business has moved centre stage, and the positive messaging of the industry in the wake of climate change concerns. A tactical approach tends to focus only on management of immediate risks. Without a coordinated, business wide and strategic approach to sustainability, emerging risks and opportunities may be missed.

Sustainability issues will have an increasing impact upon industry costs such as raw material (timber, pulp, non-fibrous and secondary materials) and energy availability and supply. Fibre from legal and sustainably managed sources are becoming the only acceptible sources of supply. Buyers and consumers of wood and paper-based products, and non-paper packaging, are increasingly concerned about sustainability issues, leading them to consider factors beyond the traditional attributes of price, quality, service and availability. Product retailers and packaging suppliers will need to assess the full lifecycle impact of their production, sourcing, distribution and retailing operations to ensure optimum sustainability performance. There is significant business opportunity to gain customer and consumer advantage through effective communication of green credentials. Investors and lenders are factoring sustainability into their asset allocation strategies and their expectations of FPP clients are increasing, with a growing number of the world’s leading financial institutions developing sustainability investment policies.

The challenges of sustainability will not subside during the downturn; pressures from customers, regulators and other stakeholders remain. Leading companies will use the downturn to advance their sustainabilty strategies and programmes, especially where there will be concomitant benefits in operatiing efficiency or revenue.

How PwC can help

As a major advisor to the sector we understand the impacts of external and regulatory pressures, and new market and consumer trends. Drawing on our deep forest paper and packaging expertise and considerable experience of related industries such as retail and consumer, construction and engineering and financial services, we can help you approach sustainability in a strategic manner, and help you create a co-ordinated, business-wide approach which will enable you to effectively manage emerging risks and seize opportunities. We provide a broad suite of services ranging from helping you plan and embed sustainability into your corporate values, strategy, business plans, key performance indicators and processes to assisting you with your tactical responses to sustainability in supply chains, such as risk management and chain of custody.