Reducing Environmental Impacts
We’re committed to protecting the environment by adhering to the highest standards in sustainable woodlands and mill management.
Environmental Management System
We maintain an internal Environmental Management System (EMS) that provides a structure to identify, address and manage environmental issues for all manufacturing facilities and harvesting operations in the US and Canada:
- Policy: Our EMS is guided by our Environment Policy.
- Verification: We perform regular audits—both internal and independent third-party audits— to verify our EMS effectiveness.
- Training and awareness: EMS awareness is part of new staff onboarding. We also have annual refresher training, EMS field tours, and regular reporting of issues at business review meetings.
- Internal and external communication on EMS issues: Our operations complete quarterly reports of environmental incidents that are provided to our executive team and, when above certain thresholds, they are reported to our Board’s Environment and Safety Committee. First Nations and regulatory authorities also receive reports of incidents as applicable to their respective territories and jurisdictions.
Spill Prevention and Preparedness
Fuel and chemical handling, including storage, is a key part of our EMS. Our woodlands operations have strict guidelines that specifically address handling fuel and other chemicals around water sources. In addition to maintaining emergency spill response kits across our operations, we use spill plans and emergency spill response drills to ensure our teams are well prepared in the event of an incident.
Our notable spills reporting includes any spill that: is more than 100 liters, poses a significant health or safety hazard, or has any other specific circumstance that deems it notable such as the type of substance or the sensitivity of the location where the spill occurred. In 2020, Interfor had three notable spills each of which was less than 1,000 liters of fuel. Each incident was reported to the applicable authorities and subject to internal investigation and corrective action plans.
Access to water is a universal human right. Interfor’s operations do not include any water intensive processes and none of our operations are within regions with high or extremely high baseline water stress according to the 2019 WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas.
Our EMS includes specific objectives and measures related to water quality. In addition to our strict fuel and chemical handling measures in our woodlands, our riparian management commitments define reserve and management zone buffers that are to be left around streams, wetlands and lakes in our harvesting operations to protect water quality. Maintaining natural drainage patterns is a core element of our standard operating procedures, and our soil management objectives contribute to water quality by protecting soil structure and productivity as well as preventing soil erosion. We have developed a watershed risk management framework to identify, assess and document the potential for impacts to water quality and quantity.
Our woodlands operations use stakeholder engagement and specific measures regarding community watersheds to mitigate potential impacts to drinking water.
As a small water-user, our wastewater discharge is limited and the jurisdictions in which we operate employ a range of permits and authorizations and their associated requirements to govern wastewater. In our industrial operations we use various methods including water sampling, oil-water separators and settling ponds to ensure site runoff does not lead to contamination of neighboring water sources.
Recycling and Use of Recycled Materials
Our Burnaby, BC, head office is in a BOMA BEST Certified Gold building and partakes in a comprehensive recycling program including organics, batteries and e-waste. Our other offices and operations have recycling programs for various materials from paper and cardboard to scrap metal and used oil.
With the exception of our Cedarprime operation, Interfor is a primary manufacturer and therefore the use of recycled wood or fiber is not applicable to our operations. Our Cedarprime facility remanufactures lumber produced by our primary sawmilling operations, creating value-added products.
We have environmental monitoring programs in place pertaining to water use, air emissions, waste management, fuel handling and spill prevention. We use third-party auditors to conduct compliance audits with a scoring system to track our performance, and set a target score of 4.5 (out of the maximum achievable score of 5). In 2020, we achieved a rating of 4.8 averaged across operations, which is deemed to be compliant and low risk.