Domtar’s Acquisition of Xerox Paper Business Lays Ground for Continued Sustainability Progress

When Domtar recently announced its acquisition of the Xerox North American paper business, I wondered what the positive sustainability impact would be. Domtar has built an environmental leadership position in the pulp and paper industry over a 10-year period. Just Means writer Meirav Even-Har did a great job last year of describing Domtar’s strong combination of: Long-term NGO partnerships—with World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Alliance, and the Nature Conservancy; Ambitious FSC goals—a 25% increase in FSC fiber use by 2020, reaching 100% FSC-sourced in the long-term; and Consumer tools to support sustainable paper choices—such as Pixel and Print Logic and The Paper Trail online resource calculator. I didn’t know as much about Xerox sustainability, but learned that the Xerox paper line offers a number of paper options with FSC and SFI certified content. Xerox also collaborates with the Nature Conservancy and their commitment has included a $1M pledge made in 2010. Providing customers with a trusted brand According to Stuart Lister, Manager, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs at Domtar, the sustainability story here is in the strengthening of the Domtar offering and brand. As is well known, the top-line paper business in North America is declining. “Adding a household name to the already strong brands in our paper line insulates us against secular demand decline while providing our customers with a trusted brand,” says Lister. The deal plays to the strengths of both organizations. Xerox is able to focus more closely on its core technology business. At the same time Domtar gives Xerox branded paper an efficient route to market while gaining a technology connection. Xerox paper will be sold alongside Domtar’s EarthChoice products, now representing 25% of sales. This deal represents creative change, and Domtar has had innovation on its mind since before 2011. “If paper is experiencing a 3-4% a year decline, it’s about how we take what we are good at—100 years of wood fibre experience—and see what else we can do with it,” says Lister. With much of the environmental work accomplished at the mill level, Domtar is looking at product development in earnest in its Personal Care division, with super-absorbent cores, as well as in its Pulp and Paper division, with wood fiber bioproducts such as lignin and cellulose nanocrystal. With the deal set to complete by early June, it remains to be seen how the addition of Xerox paper into the portfolio will impact Domtar’s FSC goals in particular—or any other aspects of the sustainability program. It’s simply too early to tell. I look forward to connecting with Sustainability VP, David Struhs later in the spring to learn more.