Grading the Office Supply Industry on Paper Practices

Grading the Office Supply Industry on Paper Practices

How do office supply firms stack up when it comes to paper products, practices and environmental responsibility? Forest Ethics and the Dogwood Alliance recently released their latest industry report card. Daniel Hall, the market solutions director at Forest Ethics, summarizes this year’s annual review.

This year’s Green Grades Office Supply Report Card evaluates more companies than ever on a more comprehensive set of criteria than ever. With that in mind, it’s especially encouraging to see more companies actually making the grade, and joining sector leaders to use their purchasing power to benefit the environment. Others, of course, lag way behind and continue to create a market for forest destruction. We look forward to working with these companies to help them stop sourcing paper that harms endangered forests, wildlife, and the climate, and to increase their use of the good stuff, i.e. recycled and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper.

Here’s the summary: Many companies are distancing themselves from two of the world’s most controversial paper companies, International Paper and Asia Pulp & Paper. FedEx Office, Staples and Office Depot are making great strides in shifting their sourcing to paper from FSC-certified forests.

{related_content}That’s great to see when schemes like the Sustainable Forestry Initiative are trying to pass themselves off as green eco-labels, which not only misleads consumers but also undercuts the hard work of companies that sincerely want to be more sustainable.

In other words: Greenwash. This year we have a small "Greenwash" section to highlight some of the lowlights of green spin. Several companies in this report card talk a green game while supporting destructive practices.

The image you see above shows the grades earned by each company, plus their performance on the six topics that we considered in arriving at those overall grades.  The actual report card, available at our website, explains these six topics, provides highlights of each company’s performance and provides examples of greenwashing.

Our advice? Minimize your use of paper, look for post-consumer recycled and FSC-certified paper and shop with the companies that have earned high marks. They deserve it, as does our planet.

Daniel Hall is the market solutions director at Forest Ethics. His post previously appeared on the blog maintained by GreenBiz Senior Writer Marc Gunther.

Muir Woods -- Image CC licensed by Flickr user The Wandering Angel.