Office Depot, Allstate Among Major Firms Cutting Ties with SFI Wood Certification

Office Depot, Symantec and wholesale business products distributor United Stationers are among the seven firms that will no longer use the Sustainable Forestry Initiative logo on branded paper products or company publications, advocacy group ForestEthics said today.

Joining the three Fortune 500 firms in commitments were Aetna and Allstate, which are also Fortune 500 companies, clothing and home decor designer Garnet Hill and bicycle store chain Performance Inc., according to ForestEthics.

The announcement, the latest salvo in a longstanding dispute over wood certification standards, left SFI President and CEO Kathy Abusow unfazed.

"The reality is that ForestEthics wishes there was only one standard, FSC (the Forest Stewardship Council)," Abusow told GreenBiz.com and GreenerBuildings.com. "We have no qualms with people who have a preference for FSC. If this is a decision they've made that's fine -- but if it's a decision they made based on misinformation, that's something else."

Both ForestEthics and SFI have accused each other of dispensing misleading and inaccurate information. ForestEthics, which issued a report lambasting SFI last fall, has decried SFI as being a tool of the timber industry and says the organization is greenwashing. SFI, which countered with a "setting the record straight" statement, says it has shed industry ties and toughened its standards, changes which the organization contends critics refuse to acknowledge.

In its announcement today, ForestEthics listed the company actions, saying:

  • Aetna committed to phasing out use of the SFI logo on printed marketing materials.
  • Allstate will shift all office paper in Allstate facilities nationwide from SFI certified to FSC certified.
  • United Stationers committed to using FSC as its benchmark for forest certification in procurement and marketing.
  • Symantec removed SFI language from the firm's website and committed to integrate this position into internal practices for paper marketing materials and packaging.
  • Garnet Hill will no longer print its catalog on paper labeled with the SFI seal.
  • Performance Bicycles will no longer print its catalog on SFI certified paper.
  • Office Depot will phaseout use of the SFI logo on Office Depot-brand papers.