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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > Environmental Group Targets Staples

Environmental Group Targets Staples

Date : 10th September 2002, Source : Newsgroup

Associated Press
Environmental Group Targets Staples
Environmental Group Targets Staples Paper Practices
Monday September 9, 5:51 pm ET

By JUSTIN POPE, AP Business Writer

BOSTON (AP) -- An environmental group with a history of sharply criticizing Staples Inc. accused the office supply chain of misleading customers about its sale of paper products from old-growth forests.

In a report released Monday, San Francisco-based ForestEthics claims that fiber from old growth trees in Indonesia and Canada is regularly provided to the company by suppliers. Staples has told customers in an open letter that "we work closely with our vendors to ensure they do not sell Staples any products made from old-growth forests."

Definitions of old-growth forest vary, but the designation is generally based on such factors as the age and thickness of trees and the amount of dead wood on the ground.

Staples spokesman Owen Davis said the company "takes its commitment to environmental stewardship seriously." He said he could not comment specifically on the report but said the company would be announcing a new environmental purchasing policy this fall.

ForestEthics has already staged protests at Staples stores and during its annual meeting, when activists peppered chief executive officer Ron Sargent with questions on the company's environmental record.

Todd Paglia, campaign director for ForestEthics, acknowledged the group is focusing its criticism on Framingham-based Staples because it is such a well-known name that any changes it makes would force other companies to take notice. The tactic worked in previous protests against home improvement chains Lowe's and Home Depot, who instituted new, "greener" policies.

"Going after Staples is a little like going after Ford in the automotive industry," Paglia said. "These guys are a global force. Our theory is if you want to change the way things are done, you have to get the leading company to take the lead."

ForestEthics does not claim that Staples actively seeks old growth wood products, but that it has no reliable mechanism to ensure that suppliers live up to the requirement that their products not come from such forests.

The group's report claims that one supplier, Montreal-based Domtar Inc., logs in old growth areas of the boreal forest that stretches across eastern Canada, and that the company's Espanola Pulp Mill in Ontario does not separate old-growth pulp from other pulp.

It makes similar claims about pulp supplies from British Columbia and Indonesia.

A Domtar spokesman did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Davis said that Staples had asked suppliers for assurances they were not using old growth forest products, and said the company received such assurances from a majority of its suppliers. But some did not respond, and Davis acknowledged they had not been cut off as suppliers or faced any consequences.

He said Staples' new policy was being formulated with advice from consultants and environmental groups, including ForestEthics.

Staples shares closed up 27 cents to $14.33 in trading Monday on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Liz Butler
Organizing Director/ForestEthics

Document last updated on Wednesday 01 August 2018

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