The first decade of the new millennium was marked by a maturing of the company’s environmental awareness into a comprehensive sustainability plan. The company began publishing an annual sustainability report for stakeholders. One hundred percent of Weyerhaeuser’s North American timberlands became certified to sustainable forestry standards. Ninety-two percent of facilities established environmental management systems that were ISO 14001-ready.
COLLABORATION AND INNOVATION
Several highlights of the decade involved collaboration and innovation:
- Cellulose-Based Fuel—Weyerhaeuser entered into a joint venture with Chevron called Catchlight Energy LLC. Catchlight Energy explores the commercialization of fuel from non-food cellulosic sources.
- Nonwoven Fabric —Weyerhaeuser and the Lenzing Group announced they would work together to develop cellulose based nonwoven fabrics. Lenzing is the market leader in lyocell, a cellulose-based fabric. Weyerhaeuser invented and patented a method of making a lyocell fabric that is nonwoven.
- Geothermal Energy—The company struck an agreement with AltaRock Energy to explore the potential of engineered geothermal projects on company-owned geothermal rights in the U.S. West.
- Sustainable Forestry—The company announced a partnership with Fujian Yongan Forestry Company to introduce advanced sustainable forestry practices on timberland in China’s Fujian Province.
- Cellulose Fiber Conversion—To grow with a key customer, the company announced it would build a cellulose fiber conversion facility in Gdansk, Poland.
The company entered a sawmill joint venture in Brazil to produce Lyptus® lumber, used in “appearance” products such as furniture, flooring, and cabinetry. Lyptus comes from a eucalyptus hybrid grown on plantations, where native vegetation is retained in one-third of the area to help maintain elements of the natural ecosystem. The company sold its interests in New Zealand and Australia, and increased its presence in Uruguay by gaining 50 percent ownership in a new plywood mill and full ownership of about 98,000 acres of land.
In 2008, Weyerhaeuser achieved a long-held safety goal: a recordable incident rate of less than one. The 0.98 rate was further reduced in 2009 to 0.62.
RESPONSE TO A CHANGING BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT
A severe downturn in the economy created a particularly challenging business environment. Weyerhaeuser responded by narrowing its scope to a core group of businesses with the greatest potential to flourish as the economy improved: cellulose fibers, paper and liquid packaging, real estate, wood products, and timberlands. As 2009 came to a close, the company announced its intention to form a real estate investment trust (REIT). The REIT structure would focus Weyerhaeuser on the investment value of its timberlands, while retaining core businesses that can contribute to the bottom line.
During the decade, Weyerhaeuser achieved numerous awards, including:
- Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World—The list is a product of Corporate Knights and Innovest. Corporations are selected for their commitment to the triple bottom line: society, environment and economy.
- World’s Most Ethical Companies—This list of 99 companies, crossing 35 industries, was compiled by the Ethisphere Institute.
- Energy Star—Pardee Homes earned multiple Energy Star awards from the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy.
- Safest Home Builder—Quadrant homes was the first home builder in the U.S. to receive a top federal safety award for its health and safety programs at job sites. The award came from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
- Environmental Excellence—Weyerhaeuser earned this award from the Association of Washington Business for its public outreach work at the Weyerhaeuser Forest Learning Center at Mount St. Helens. More than 250,000 people visit the Forest Learning Center annually.
- Dow Jones Sustainability Index—This index tracks companies by their performance in corporate governance, risk management, branding, climate change, supply-chain standards, and labor practices. It’s available worldwide to managers of sustainability-driven investment portfolios, signaling a company’s financial, environmental, and social strength.
- Award for Corporate Excellence Finalist—Weyerhaeuser’s citizenship efforts in Uruguay earned the company a place among 11 finalists selected in 2008 for this U.S. Secretary of State award. The finalists were chosen from 61 nominations submitted by American ambassadors.
- Hurricane Katrina—The White House acknowledged Weyerhaeuser’s assistance to hurricane victims.
- Green Building—Pardee Homes was named the 2006 Production Home Builder of the Year by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) – the top award in the organization’s green-building awards program.
- Safety Programs—Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company subsidiaries won a number of awards at International Builders Shows. The awards are part of the NAHB’s Safety Award for Excellence program.
- 100 Best Corporate Citizens—Corporate Responsibility Officer magazine named Weyerhaeuser as the only company in the subcategory for Forestry & Forest Products.
- Best RIR Facilities—A number of Weyerhaeuser facilities won honors from the Engineered Wood Association, based on their recordable incident rate. A facility’s RIR is a ratio based on the number of injuries per hours worked.
In January 2008, Dan Fulton was appointed company president, and in April of the same year he was elected chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors. Fulton assumed his leadership role as market conditions were suffering under the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. He continued to resize the company in response to market conditions and announced the company’s intention to change to a Real Estate Investment Trust. While refocusing the company on the primary business of stewardship and management of timberlands, Fulton advocated exploring the potential of Weyerhaeuser’s non-tree assets, such as mineral rights, water, and geothermal energy. Fulton also emphasized the need to take advantage of opportunities arising from an international interest in climate change and sustainability.