Sprint Earns Top Grade for Cutting Junk Mail, Using Greener Paper

Sprint Earns Top Grade for Cutting Junk Mail, Using Greener Paper

Mail image CC-licensed by uzvards/Flickr

 When junk mail goes straight from the mailbox to the recycling bin, it's easy to think of all the senders as simply wasting paper, but advocacy group ForestEthics says in a new report that the nuances of company paper policies set some on a higher environmental bar from others.

The group's "Green Grades" report ranks 12 credit card, insurance and telecom companies that heavily use paper for billing, mailing and internal communications.

Each company's grade is based on its use of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified sources, avoidance of Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified sources, post-consumer recycled paper content and paper use reduction.

ForestEthics gives no credibility to SFI, one of several forest certification programs around the world, and urges companies to declare purchasing preferences for FSC sources. As GreenBiz.com editor Leslie Guevarra wrote earlier this year about the scuffle between ForestEthics and SFI:

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.

Adding to the contention is the U.S. Green Building Council's exclusive recognition of FSC -- at least for now -- as the only certification program that can help earn LEED building credits.

Based on surveys sent to companies and other public data, ForestEthics handed out the following grades:

  • Sprint - A
  • Bank of America - C+
  • Capital One - C+
  • AT&T - C+
  • USAA - C+
  • Discover - C
  • State Farm - C-
  • Verizon - C-
  • American Express - D+
  • Chase - D+
  • Geico - F
  • Travelers - F

Sprint plans to change its paper policy to avoid paper that originated from endangered forests and will switch its billing statements from SFI paper to FSC paper. The company also aims for 90 percent of its paper purchases to be FSC certified by 2012, and plans to reduce the weight of paper it buys by 30 percent within the next year.

The companies with C's all had a smattering of pros and cons among the four topics areas, but American Express and Chase were dinged with D's due to their increase in mailings and have little or no public information on their paper policies and goals. Geico and Travelers, meanwhile, did not respond to the survey.

Mail image CC-licensed by uzvards/Flickr