Behind our innovation, there is BIO

Behind our innovation, there is BIO

July 5, 2024
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Fernando Bertolucci, Executive Vice President of Sustainability and Innovation

I have worked in the forestry sector for 30 years and I see that there is still a lot to be done to make our activity better known and recognized for the value it brings to society.

Eucalyptus is the renewable source behind countless products that go beyond the widely known pulp and paper. We already know many of these solutions and are still unveiling others through partnerships and collaborations with universities, customers, startups and research centers. But before we get to any product, there is Bio—wood that comes from eucalyptus—and this is the story I’m going to try to tell here.

Since the late 1950s and early 1960s, we have planted eucalyptus in Brazil for the production of pulp and paper. Back then, it was already clear to us how productive and rich in possibilities eucalyptus was. Since then, the industry and environmental legislation have evolved and today we have a sophisticated and robust system that includes farms certified by international bodies, in compliance with social and environmental standards. In the case of Suzano, this matter is treated very seriously and everything we do is in line with our Zero Deforestation  position.

Our forest base reached 2.7 million hectares at the end of 2023*. Of these, 1.1 million hectares are preserved native forests. Whenever the company starts working in a new area, it becomes protected.

Brazil has the right climate for growing eucalyptus. This genus has many species, the majority of which have come from Australia and adapted very well to our soil and our economy. In our company, we plant our farms only in areas where other activities have previously existed—that is, we do not remove native forest to make way for commercial eucalyptus farming. Did you know that? That is true, and I would add that this is not always the practice in other countries that are also known for their activities in the forestry sector. In many places, such as in the northern hemisphere, the management of native trees is much more prevalent. In other words, a company comes to an area, harvests the native forest and uses this biomass for its business. The area that was harvested remains there to regrow naturally, forming a new forest that can be harvested again in 20, 30 or 40 years! And so, from native area to native area, forestry-based businesses continue in these places.

In Brazil and Suzano, our forestry cycle lasts approximately seven years. Yes, our management practices also include eucalyptus regrowth, and we have expanded our studies to increase our productivity in this area. But we never harvest or regrow native areas. We only reap what we sow!

Eucalyptus farms need scale to deliver Bio, which is the renewable raw material that supports many products we currently use and others that are being developed to replace fossil-based ones. And scalability requires a strong strategy, technological knowledge, planning and coordinated action involving various areas of the business, from operations to social development, to HR, to environmental forestry.

Speaking of social development, here are some numbers that can help illustrate the positive impact that Suzano’s presence has in the locations where we operate. In 2023*:

• We invested more than R$49 million in social initiatives.

• We benefited 347,000 people in eight Brazilian states where we have operations (Bahia, Espírito Santo, Maranhão, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, São Paulo and Tocantins).

• We helped lift more than 22,250 people out of poverty, totaling 51,000 since 2020—a progress of more than 25% in relation to our Commitment, described below.

• We held 4,106 Operational Dialogue sessions with communities neighboring our sites to understand and mitigate impacts, an action that involved 7,500 people in the towns where the company operates.

Additionally, sustainability is incorporated into Suzano’s business strategy and reflected in the company’s 15 Commitments to Renewing Life, our long-term goals to be achieved by 2030, including:

• Connecting, through ecological corridors, 500,000 hectares of fragments of the Amazon, Atlantic Forest and Cerrado.

• Offer 10 million tonnes of products from renewable sources that can replace plastic and other petroleum-based items.

• Lift 200,000 people out of poverty in the areas where we operate.

This is a lot, and it all goes back to where we started: Bio.

I confess that I am an enthusiast when it comes to this topic, since I believe that renewable raw materials are essential for the future of society. At the same time, I recognize that, like any large-scale operation, eucalyptus farming generates impact, which must be discussed through transparent and continuous dialogue with society. This is the only path for our sector to continue to evolve, as it has been doing for decades.

I hope I was able to help clarify a few important points about Suzano and the Brazilian forestry sector, and how much it has to offer to our country.

*Data from Suzano’s 2023 Sustainability Report, which can be found here.

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