International Paper: Attaching a value to water

International Paper (IP) is one of the world’s leading producers of fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper. We create value for our stakeholders by: sustaining forests, investing in people, improving our planet, creating innovative products and delivering inspired performance. Maintaining healthy watersheds is central to our commitment to invest in the long-term sustainability of natural capital. Our industry is water-intensive, yet we return 95% of the water we use back to waterways.

Our 2020 water goal is to build on regular facility water risk assessments by incorporating water stewardship efforts and local stakeholder engagement to address water-related issues. Attaching a value to water is an important next step towards water stewardship. We piloted the Natural Capital Protocol framework with focus on water valuation at a single mill, to assess the true cost and value of water as an input for strategic decision-making. The methodology was designed to seek values for various impacts and dependencies as they related to IP and local stakeholders. 

Natural Capital Protocol used
  • Yes
Impact drivers assessed
  • Fresh water ecosystem use e.g. wetlands, ponds, rivers
  • Water pollutants e.g. volume discharged to receiving water body
  • Water use e.g. volume of ground- or surface water consumed
Organizational Focus
  • Project
Valuation Type
  • Quantitative
  • Monetary
  • Value to business
  • Value to society
Dependencies assessed
  • Water e.g. fresh or sea water
Value Chain Boundary
  • Direct operations
Sectors
  • Forest and Paper products

Key findings

Our findings will help shape our approach to water risk management and stewardship efforts. The model is relatively complex and will be continually refined, re-assessed at this site over time for trending and replicated at other manufacturing sites going forward given the highly localized nature of water dependencies and impacts.

We are working to design a plan for integrating water value into our operational models in order to internalize key “externalities” related to our water intake and discharge.  This is an important element of our strategic reorientation from water management to water stewardship. It will help to improve the sustainability of materials and resources used in our sourcing and manufacturing processes and will help IP deliver on our vision to be among the most successful, sustainable and responsible companies in the world.