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Georgia Pacific Corporation
Using Performance Goals to Focus Organizational Attention to Water Sustainability

Georgia-Pacific (G-P) is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and distributors of pulp and paper and building products. Paper mills use a significant amount of water in their operations and their wastewater discharges can impact water quality. Manufacturing packaging materials and thermosetting resins had the potential to save money by recycling or reusing wastewater. In 1994, in order to support G-P management’s recognition that strong environmental and safety performance is vital to strong financial performance, the company established clear environmental performance goals in all the environmental media. By setting environmental performance as a top and measurable priority, the CEO led the company on a path toward environmental leadership.

G-P’s 1994 Environmental and Safety Report established nearly 60 goals, with associated performance measures, to track environmental progress in each of the categories. The five water pollution prevention goals included:

  • Beneficially reuse process wastewater or become closed loop at all G-P chemical plants by 1998.
  • Beneficially reuse process wastewater or become closed loop at all G-P packaging plants by 2000.
  • Reduce, through waste treatment plant upgrades, total suspended solids (TSS) per ton of product 25% by 1998 and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) per ton of product 15% from pulp and paper mills by 1998, using 1993 as a base year.
  • Measure the impact of color discharges from each major pulp and paper mill to the receiving water body using a delta system, with 1995 as a baseline. Apply Best Management Practices (BMPs) to develop site-by-site cumulative color delta reduction targets to be achieved by 1998.
  • Complete underground storage tank upgrades or removals by 1998.

In 2000, after making significant progress toward meeting these goals, G-P developed, with input from employees, new performance measures to track continuous improvement of corporate-wide and individual business unit performance. The measures are designed to help employees, shareholders, communities, and others better understand and evaluate environmental performance. For example, water use is now measured in terms that are more directly integrated into the business bottom line, such as gallons per ton of product produced. These measurements provide incentives for individual business units to reduce costs associated with water use and discharge. In addition to the measurable improvements to performance since 1994, G-P has found that the principles and goals have helped build a new culture among G-P employees. Using the goals and the performance measures established in 1994, environmental protection and safety awareness have moved beyond being special programs and have become a way of life throughout the company.

Module 4