Forest-Side Chat with Canopy and Ben & Jerry’s

“What gives us the right to cut down trees, especially Ancient and Endangered ones” – Justin Schmitt, the Global Packaging Manager at Ben & Jerry’s

Justin Schmitt, the Global Packaging Manager at Canopy partner Ben & Jerry’s, and Canopy’s Fibre Solutions Strategist, Valerie Langer took the stage to deliver the keynote speech at the Sustainability Pack US conference earlier this month. Together, they outline the importance of creating strong market pull-through to advancing alternative fibre streams, signaling to conventional producers industry demand to replace virgin tree fibres with lower-carbon, Next Gen alternatives that would otherwise be treated as waste — thereby closing the loop.

This approach has fueled Canopy’s work over the past two decades across industries, and most recently, has earned the recognition of receiving a significant $60 million funding boost over 6.5 years from The Audacious Project to expand to new geographic regions, deepen impactful partnerships, and add new strategic areas to existing campaigns.

The Future of Paper for Packaging 

Over 3.1 billion trees are logged yearly for paper-based packaging, making it a major threat to Ancient and Endangered Forests and a significant contributor to carbon emissions and biodiversity loss. A staggering 80% of the world’s frontier forests, which are large intact forests, have been lost. What’s even more concerning is that frontier forests are irreplaceable. Although it’s possible to grow a new tree or establish a different type of tree plantation, such as eucalyptus, in their place, this does not compensate for the loss of intact forest ecosystems and subsequently the animal habitats andcarbon, within them.

Solutions exist that do not rely on cutting down vital forest ecosystems. In fact, there are already 11 million tonnes of paper made with agricultural fibres such as bamboo, bagasse, cereal straws, etc on the market today. These solutions are here but they need to be scaled.

This coming decade we aspire to see the shift from the majority virgin fibre production into alternative fibres that keep biodiversity and carbon-rich forests standing for generations to come. 

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