Erling Lorentzen, a native of Norway, became a sustainability leader by way of his family’s shipping interests in Brazil. Settling there with his young family in 1953, Lorentzen pursued entrepreneurial ventures in shipping and energy/liquefied petroleum gas. In 1968, he discovered his life’s work in the forestry and pulp industry. Realizing that Brazil’s climate made it possible to grow trees in a fraction of the time required in Europe and North America, Lorentzen seized the competitive advantage by founding Aracruz Cellulose. He created eucalyptus forests in an unforested but fertile area of the Brazilian interior and built what was to become the world’s largest short fiber pulp mill. These forests reached maturity in seven years, providing two key advantages: a rapidly renewable resource and the ability to conduct research on productivity and quickly implement innovations.
“I created Aracruz to be an environmentally sound industrial company. When the concept of sustainable development became well known following the Brundtland Report to the United Nations in 1987, I became involved in renewable forestry worldwide through the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and I continue to address environmental problems in my current work.”