Selection of the parameters

WWF has carefully chosen a limited number of parameters that have major environmental impacts and that can be seen as "umbrella parameters" or "signal indicators." Adding more parameters would likely not significantly change the scoring of individual papers or provide much additional practical guidance for paper buyers.

WWF began the process by looking at over 20 parameters that are generally reported on by transparent paper companies. This set of parameters was then reduced to a more user-friendly subset by applying the following criteria:

  • The importance of each parameter in terms of the environmental impact, i.e. threat to human and/or ecosystem health and vitality;
  • The significance of the paper industry's contribution to the global environmental footprint for each parameter;
  • Status as a "signal-parameter" — i.e. whether the performance of one parameter is usually linked with performance in other parameters;
  • Availability of reliable data for WWF to establish credible threshold performance values for scoring;
  • Parameters for which industry reduction is already driven by strong economic incentives were not selected.

The resulting shortlist addresses the main elements requiring particular focus. A number of other issues are indirectly addressed by recognizing mills that have adopted third-party certified environmental monitoring systems.

Weighting of the parameters

The weighting was set after lengthy discussions within WWF, involving forest, freshwater, climate and toxic experts. The weighting also takes into account recommendations from other NGOs working on paper issues.

40 points is given to fibre sourcing. The impact of using unsuitable fibre sources has wide-ranging social, economic and environmental consequences; from illegal and unsafe logging to widespread deforestation. According to the Stern report 1, the loss of natural forests around the world contributes more to global emissions each year than the transport sector. Curbing deforestation is a highly cost-effective way to reduce emissions.

60 points is given to pollution factors from CO2, AOX, COD, EMS and landfill.

Setting the scales for rating emission parameters

The rates are based on the sums of contributions from the pulp and paper making processes. The entry thresholds for rating reflect performance levels achievable by most major pulp- and paper mills, based on an extensive WWF study of publicly available data and informed by the most recent criteria of the EU Eco-labelling scheme. Actually there is no complete, objective and globally representative data on the environmental performance of pulp and paper mills. However, the criteria of the EU Eco-labelling scheme (EU Flower) are informative points of reference.

The zero emission requirements for maximum points related to fossil CO2, AOX, COD and landfill are based on very best performance. The scales were set by dividing the distance between the entry threshold level and zero into equal steps. To promote transparency, one point is allocated to reporting in cases where actual emissions exceed the thresholds.

The Check Your Paper scheme is designed to accommodate all paper grades and types within the same matrix. However, as different types of paper are manufactured in different processes, scores are relative so that the "best" producer of a certain grade, e.g. printing paper, may not score as high as the "best" producer of e.g. unbleached recycled tissue. This is not a problem in practise though, as purchasers necessarily compare like with like — you can't print glossy brochures on hygienic tissue.

Zero goal for the emission parameters

Mills should strive for zero environmental impacts, just as they aim to achieve zero accidents and zero defects in quality. Ambitious targets are necessary both to improve performance and to differentiate performance between mills. Moreover, the targets are realistic as there are examples of top scoring producers for all parameters:

  • CO2: Quite a number of mills use 100% renewable energy.
  • AOX: TCF mills emit zero AOX, while the best ECF mills get within 2 points of the maximum score.
  • COD: Closed loop mills send no discharges to water.
  • Landfill: Quite some paper mills producing difference grades have achieved zero or near zero non-hazardous waste to landfill. Several mills have developed innovative solutions for turning their solid waste into valuable raw-material for other products.

What ratings are good enough?

CYP is designed as an integrated point system to give buyers more clarity about what they buy. CYP has certain thresholds built in before any points can be gained at all. Initially, few papers will rate close to the maximum score of 100 points. There are also likely to be significant variations in the average rates between different paper grades.

Thus, rather than "pass or fail", CYP is a tool to compare performances between papers with similar properties, allowing buyers and producers to set targets for improvement. For paper products scoring less than one points on a parameter, we hope the buyer and producer will realize the need to improve.