Leading Companies to Pilot New Environmental Paper Tool

Leading Companies to Pilot New Environmental Paper Tool

Six U.S. companies have agreed to participate in the EPAT Early Adopter Circle -- a group of businesses selected to assist in the development of a universal tool to evaluate environmentally preferable paper in purchasing decisions.

The Hearst Corporation, J. C. Penney Company Inc., L.L. Bean, Office Depot, Quad/Graphics Inc., and Recreational Equipment, Inc., recently signed on to use the Environmental Paper Assessment Tool (EPAT). This tool was created by the Paper Working Group, a group of 11 companies and nonprofit Metafore, whose goal is to champion the responsible purchasing of paper. These six companies are the first to join in the EPAT Early Adopter Circle, which will work with the Paper Working Group to test, fine-tune and deploy this new tool.

"Our company is based on customers who share our love of the outdoors and take action to protect it," said Carolyn Beem, governmental and environmental affairs manager for L.L. Bean. "By taking an active role in how we procure paper, we believe we can have a positive impact on resource use and forest management. The EPAT can be a useful tool for sending that message throughout the supply chain."

Added Tyler Elm, Office Depot's director of environmental affairs: “Advancing environmental stewardship is a guiding principle of Office Depot's Paper Procurement Policy,” Elm said. “We look forward to piloting the Environmental Paper Assessment Tool as it will go a long way in helping to set a standard measure of the environmental performance of the paper products we use and sell. It is also an efficient mechanism for gathering, distributing and reporting information for everyone involved in the supply chain.”

Dave Blais, vice president of operations for Quad/Graphics, welcomed the opportunity to develop a tool aimed at unifying language and measurements in the printing and publishing industry. "We have long believed that what is good for the environment is good for business and, certainly, the Environmental Paper Assessment Tool supports that belief. We're pleased to have a role in developing this tool for the benefit of printing and publishing industries because it will bring together much-needed information in a standardized format."

In the spring of 2003, Metafore convened the Paper Working Group to collectively identify ways to increase the supply and affordability of environmentally preferable paper. The group defines environmentally preferable paper in terms of a set of seven inter-connected desired outcomes that represent multiple opportunities for improvement. These range from minimization of waste and conservation of natural systems to clean production and community and human well-being.

In addition to this group’s work to define the attributes of environmentally preferable paper, the Paper Working Group took on the arduous task of creating a tool that can be used by corporate paper buyers around the world to evaluate the environmental performance of paper.

The EPAT is intended to facilitate communication between producers and buyers of paper by establishing consistent environmental metrics for evaluating paper and paper products. The Web-based interactive tool scheduled for wide release at the end of 2005 considers the life-cycle impacts of paper production, and is based on standardized information provided by paper suppliers.

Dave Schirmer, vice president and general manager of Hearst Enterprises, sees opportunity in the EPAT. “Sustainability and environmental compliance are key objectives of The Hearst Corporation, and we find EPAT to be an excellent tool in providing a systematic approach to furthering this objective.”
Mike Collins of REI noted that “EPAT came at the right time and aligns with our values and goals. I am encouraged by the life-cycle approach and see this as a tool that can help us meet our environmental objectives.”

The EPAT Early Adopter Circle will be piloting the tool throughout 2005, and will provide valuable input on its usability and design prior to widespread release at the end of the year.

Mark Buckley, vice president of environmental affairs for Staples, Inc., a participant in the Paper Working Group, added: "The goal of the EPAT Early Adopter Circle working together with the Paper Working Group companies is to deliver a universal tool that any business can use. This tool will help organizations ensure that the paper they buy meets their standards for the most environmentally sound material available."