NEW YORK CITY, NY — Staples yesterday announced that it had joined The Rainforest Alliance's SmartSource program as a step toward making the bulk of its paper products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Currently all of the company's 1,550 Copy & Print centers in the U.S. use 50 percent FSC-certified paper for its black-and-white copiers; Staples intends to make the majority of the papers it sells FSC-certified by the end of 2010

The SmartSource program aims to work with companies to establish responsible purchasing policies as a way of moving entire supply chains toward more sustainable practices and FSC certification. The Forest Stewardship Council is one of several certifying bodies for forestry and paper products in the U.S., but is widely considered to be the most rigorous [PDF] available.

"Staples' commitment to sustainability goes largely unspoken," Mark Comolli, director of the Rainforest Alliance's sustainable forestry market program, said in a statement.  "Through their powerful market influence, they have been able to help change the market and spur companies and forest managers to practice responsible forest management.  Their continued efforts will help to conserve biodiversity and provide sustainable livelihoods for forest workers and communities."

The new partnership is just the latest move in Staples ongoing efforts to improve its environmental impact. The company widely earned praise for its severing of ties with Asia Pulp & Paper, a company long singled out for its poor environmental performance. Staples also earned top marks in the 2008 Green Grades report card of corporate paper policies, though it slid slightly in the 2009 rankings.

More details on the Rainforest Alliance's SmartSource program are available on rainforest-alliance.org.

Forest photo CC-licensed by Flickr user (le)doo /break.