Carbon Footprint

The carbon footprint of a product is the sum of all the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with its entire life cycle. For paper, it goes from the forest to manufacturing to the recycling center to landfill  minus sequestered or avoided emissions. Measuring and analyzing Resolute’s carbon footprint is an essential step in reducing the environmental impact of our operations.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

GHG emissions, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) are mostly generated by the combustion of fossil fuels at various stages in the papermaking process. Methane, another greenhouse gas, is produced when paper and other waste decompose in landfills.

Resolute relies on the Ontario Guideline for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting (February 2012) as a source for the global warming potential (GWP) rates that we use to convert non-carbon-dioxide emissions into the standard measure of carbon accounting: carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e).1

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is the tool most widely used by governments and businesses to calculate and manage GHG emissions. It provides standardized methods and industry-specific calculation tools for corporate accounting and reporting. The long-standing partnership of the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) works with a variety of global stakeholders to tackle climate change with GHG inventories and management tools. Visit for more information.

To standardize and provide transparency in reporting, operational boundaries are set by tracking GHG emissions under three scopes defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol:

  • SCOPE 1 includes "direct emissions," which come from sources owned or controlled by the company, such as the combustion of fuel at the mill to generate heat to dry the paper or to create electricity.
  • SCOPE 2 encompasses "indirect emissions" (the result of company activities occurring at sources owned or controlled by another company) associated with the production of purchased electricity or steam. Scope 2 emissions physically occur at the facility where electricity or steam is generated. Resolute’s electricity suppliers provide us with their grid emission factors, which the company then includes in its scope 2 emission data. The grid emission factors for 2013 were updated and confirmed by our suppliers in August 2014. Final GHG emission data is made public following the completion of Resolute’s corporate GHG verification and audit.2
  • SCOPE 3 is an optional category used to report all other indirect emissions not covered in scope 2, such as greenhouse gas emissions from the production of purchased materials, or transportation activities in vehicles not owned or controlled by the company.

We report GHG emissions for all of our pulp and paper manufacturing operations, but not for our wood products facilities as these operations have a comparatively small carbon footprint. Resolute’s wood products facilities represent less than 1% of our total annual GHG emissions.

The year 2000 was chosen as a baseline in order to take into account the significant investments that have been made over the past 15 years to reduce our GHG emissions. As required by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a recalculation of the baseline was completed in 2013 to reflect the mid-2012 acquisition of three new operations in Fairmont (West Virginia), Menominee (Michigan) and Saint-Félicien (Quebec). We sold the Fairmont pulp mill in November 2018 and the Catawba (South Carolina) pulp and paper mill in January 2019. In addition, GHG emissions from our landfill sites were added to our 2000, 2011, 2012 and subsequent inventories, and the GWP for CH4 (methane) and N2O (nitrous oxide) were updated following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) global warming potential corrections issued in November 2013 for these gases.

The Carbon Cycle, Carbon Sinks and Avoided Emissions

Forests both store and release significant amounts of carbon as part of a natural cycle. Responsible forest management not only reduces a forest’s potential as a carbon source, it can also increase the effect of its carbon storage capacity. Carbon moves in and out of the atmosphere through a natural process called the carbon cycle. Some years, forests hold more carbon than they release. When they capture more CO2, they are called carbon sinks.

The process of capturing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it for a long time is called sequestration. Trees store carbon by converting CO2 into plant material through photosynthesis, which uses the energy from the sun and releases oxygen. When a tree is harvested and milled into lumber, a small amount of that carbon escapes, but most of it remains trapped within the cellular structure of the wood, effectively prolonging the effect of sequestration.

Wood products, as well as books, magazines and other durable paper products, store the carbon that began in the forest, and the recycling of paper avoids the methane emissions that occur at the landfill. These carbon sinks and avoided emissions can be subtracted from the emissions generated in the life cycle of wood products. 

Forest Carbon Cycle

diagram illustrating the forest carbon cycle

For more information, check out our blog post on Avoiding Carbon Emissions by Building with Wood and the article that details 8 Things to Know About the Boreal Forest and Carbon.

"Cradle-to-Grave" Carbon Footprint

The diagram below illustrates the operational boundaries of the GHG emissions and carbon sinks attributed to the manufacture, delivery and end-use of our products.

diagram of operational boundaries

Tracking and Reporting Our Carbon Footprint

Since 2006, we have reported our carbon footprint — including scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions — to the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), an independent not-for-profit organization representing 655 institutional investors with a combined asset base of $87 trillion. On their behalf, the CDP compiles information from the world's largest companies on the business risks and opportunities presented by climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. Visit for more information.

In 2008, Resolute was named the leading forest products company in Canada in the Climate Disclosure Leadership Index, an annual index published by the CDP that recognizes companies demonstrating best-in-class disclosure practices in climate change strategy as well as reporting of greenhouse gas emissions.

For detailed information on how Resolute calculates our carbon footprint, including scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, download our CDP Climate Change Disclosure available at

The composition of our carbon footprint is illustrated in the chart below. Sequestered or avoided emissions are omitted.

bar graphs showing Resolute's greenhouse gas emissions since 2000 at its pulp and paper mills

Scope 1 and scope 2 emissions are the focus of our emission-reduction programs. They are tracked and reported on a monthly basis. We have also started to track GHG emissions related to our supply chain, or scope 3 emissions. They too represent an important aspect of our carbon inventory. Over time, we intend to develop strong relationships and a collaborative approach with key suppliers to further reduce our global carbon footprint. We have committed to implementing scope 3 standard GHG accounting and, in 2015, enhanced the disclosure of scope 3 emissions by reporting all relevant scope 3 emission categories to the CDP.

We continue to work with third parties (consultants and non-governmental organizations) that assist us in our continuing drive to identify and quantify opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Partnering With Our Industry Associations

Resolute welcomes the opportunity to work with others to support global carbon emission reduction efforts. As a member of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), we have signed on to its "30 by 30” Climate Change Challenge, which commits the Canadian forest products industry to removing 30 megatons of CO2 per year by 2030 – more than 13% of the Canadian government’s total emission reduction target. In the United States, we are working with the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) to support its goal of achieving at least a 20% reduction of members’ GHG emissions from 2005 to 2020.

Joining the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition

In July 2016, Resolute became an inaugural Canadian member of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC), a voluntary global partnership that brings together leaders to help address climate change by putting a price on carbon. Resolute supports carbon pricing policies as a market mechanism that drives competitiveness, creates jobs, encourages innovation and delivers meaningful emission reductions. A market price for carbon is included in decision-making at our facilities currently or shortly subject to cap-and-trade regulations. We advocate, however, for an equivalent carbon price across North American jurisdictions to avoid carbon leakage and competitive issues.

1 Exceptions are: coal where CO2, CH4 and N2O default values are from EPA 40 CFR Part 98 (November 2013), plastics and tire-derived fuel where CO2 is based on carbon content analyses, and spent pulping liquor where Western Climate Initiative (WCI) values (December 2011) are used. 

2 Except for our Ponderay (Washington) paper mill where 2012 Public Utility District (PUD) fuel mix data is used to calculate the GHG emission factors and for our Mokpo (South Korea) paper mill (permanently closed on March 9, 2017) where the GHG report uses the 2012 factor confirmed by the South Korean government.