Columbia, MD, August 19, 2011

American Wood Fibers (AWF), the largest producer of animal bedding in the nation, announced today the results of recent testing that shows that the reclaimed sludge inherent to certain paper bedding products possesses substances that could be detrimental to the health of the some 16 million small pets* living in households across the United States.

Independently conducted testing of numerous small animal bedding products currently on the market detected harmful elements such as Dioxin in paper products made with reclaimed cellulose pulp. "Based upon these test findings, we decided to become a totally 'sludge-free' company," said Edwin S. Leland, AWF president and CEO. AWF has discontinued a previously produced, sludge-based paper bedding offering.

AWF now has created a safer, more effective and sludge-free paper bedding product using a patent-pending process. "Our new paper bedding will fit in better with the AWF family of natural bedding products than our previous paper offering," said Leland. AWF's new bedding, which will be distributed through select private-label partners, will offer those interested in a paper product a safer, healthier alternative.

"Our kiln-dried wood shavings products provide a natural environment for hamsters, gerbils, rabbits and other small animals," Leland said. "Our analysis indicated that use of sludge-based beddings present an unnatural living situation that raises questions about longterm safety."

Reclaimed cellulose pulp beddings are made with fibers that are collected from pulp mill clarifier solids. Though the paper industry has made efforts to rid their waste streams of the most troubling compounds, tests conducted by independent laboratories showed that detectable amounts of Dioxin remained in all samples of the reclaimed pulp paper beddings tested.

"AWF will continue to develop new and improved offerings so that we always present the highest quality line of products available, and pet owners have choices in bedding that are good for their pets, good for their home environment, and good for the planet," Leland concluded. "It's a straight-forward focus on keeping everything natural. We want no part of sludge."

American Wood Fibers was founded in 1966 and is a leader in the specialty forestry products field. The company's family of animal bedding brands include Premier Pet™, Pets Pick™ and America's Choice®. AWF also contract manufactures for a large group of wellknown private label partners. In addition to the AWF small pet bedding division, the company offers large animal bedding, industrial wood flour, and premium wood pellet products. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, AWF has ten manufacturing sites across the continental U.S.

*Source: 2011-2012 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey