For Immediate Release: March 31, 2008
Contacts: William Craven, cell 415-407-3426; Andrew Goldberg, cell 828-251-2525 x19
Office Supply Industry’s Environmental Progress—and Problems—
Cited by Environmental Groups
As NY Paper Week continues, USA Today Ad and Scorecard Reveal Leaders and Laggards
Asheville, NC – An advertisement in today’s USA Today highlights the forest-related paper practices of five major office supply companies: Corporate Express (NYSE: CXP), FedEx Kinko’s (FDX), Office Depot (ODP), OfficeMax (OMX), and Staples (NasdaqGS: SPLS). Environmental groups Dogwood Alliance and ForestEthics say FedEx Kinko’s and Staples are making significant progress in their paper purchasing, while OfficeMax has been doing the least to back up its “green” spin with concrete actions.
In addition to several other cities, the ad ran in USA Today’s New York City edition, where paper industry executives are gathered for the American Forest & Paper Association’s annual “Paper Week.” The environmental groups released the ad and their “Green Grades” report card to provide the environmental information that companies and consumers increasingly use to guide their buying choices—and to remind paper industry executives of where progress is still needed.
“Office supply companies buy and sell large amounts of paper and their decisions directly affect the world’s forests and forest communities—including forests that provide homes for endangered species and shield us from global warming,” said Andrew Goldberg of Dogwood Alliance.
“While no office supply company is perfect, Staples and FedEx Kinko’s are making real progress and lead the sector overall,” said Daniel Hall of ForestEthics. The two companies have been the industry’s most responsive in shifting their paper sourcing from Endangered Forests to more sustainable sources. Last month, Staples stopped sourcing from Asia Pulp & Paper, Indonesia’s largest paper manufacturer and the subject of current investigations into illegal logging and endangered rainforest destruction. Last fall Staples committed to shifting the majority of its paper offerings to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sources by 2010.
FedEx Kinko’s played an important role in a landmark agreement to protect endangered caribou in British Columbia by shifting its paper purchases away from caribou habitat to FSC sources. The company was the first to adopt a strong FSC preference, and has renewed efforts to avoid controversial Indonesian fiber sources.
The “Green Grades” report card also notes that Office Depot and Corporate Express are making strides in some areas, but the jury is still out on key questions. Office Depot has a strong fiber tracking system, is phasing out its last remaining Asia Pulp & Paper products based on longstanding recognition of concerns there, and is promising to help bring more FSC products to market, including in the US South. However, the company needs to more aggressively cut its sourcing from imperiled Canadian Boreal Forests.
Corporate Express adopted a new paper procurement policy last fall, and is now making large FSC purchases. It is not yet clear whether the company will drop Endangered Forest sources from Indonesia and elsewhere.
The report card identifies OfficeMax as the industry’s clear laggard, with the company’s procurement policy lacking strong Endangered Forest protection measures or a preference for FSC certified products. While some progress has been made to increase FSC products, the groups also noted that too much of the company’s paper still comes from destroying forest ecosystems in Canada and the US South.
The two organizations are confident their work will spur further progress in this important sector, having guided the office supply industry over many years towards more sustainable policies, as evidenced by the actions of Staples, FedEx Kinko’s, Office Depot, and other companies. “Pressure from major corporate customers is often crucial to encouraging forestry companies and governments to protect Endangered Forests and adopt more sustainable practices,” said Hall. “The office supply sector has a major role to play in forest ecosystem protection and restoration,” said Goldberg. Several office companies have already helped protect selected Endangered Forests—and all of the companies need to take more aggressive steps elsewhere, including by addressing their utilization of fiber from the Southern US and , a company with a long history of destructive logging practices in that region.
The “Green Grades” report card evaluates companies on five categories crucial to forest protection: post-consumer recycled content; sustainable forest management; Endangered Forest protection; establishing chain-of-custody to determine origin of paper products; and prohibiting the conversion of native forests into tree farms or other non-forest land uses. The report card is available at forestethics.org/greengrades
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Dogwood Alliance is the only organization in the Southern United States holding corporations accountable for the impact of their industrial forestry practices on our forests and communities. In addition to holding the office supply industry accountable to their environmental commitments, Dogwood Alliance is working to stop the destructive practices of the paper packaging sector. Visit dogwoodalliance.org for more information.
ForestEthics, a nonprofit with staff in Canada, the United States and Chile, recognizes that individual people can be mobilized to create positive environmental change—and so can corporations. Armed with this unique philosophy, ForestEthics has protected more than 12 million acres of Endangered Forests. Visit ForestEthics.org for more information.