Flunks Forest Ethics' Green Paper Policy Test - FedEx Office Gets an A-

photo: Gabriel Legaré via flickr
Forest Ethics has released the 2010 edition of their Green Grades scorecard on sustainable paper practices in the office supply sector. Though since the first scorecard was released in 2007, they note that some of the world's largest stores have made "huge environmental progress" some prominent retailers still receive failing grades or poor grades. Companies received their Green Grade based on how well they performed on a variety of criteria, including chain of custody, controversial paper sources, support of the timber industry backed Sustainable Forestry Initiative, recycling and reduction, Forest Stewardship Council certification, and other factors.

At the bottom of the list is, receiving a grade of F+. Forest Ethics says, does not have a meaningful paper policy or other basic safeguards and goals. Indeed, the company appears to have no problem with buying and selling paper from endangered forests and other controversial sources, including the US South. Some subsidiaries are also using the SFI greenwash logo on the paper-based packaging, and had publicly expressed support for the SFI.

Other poor performers were Walmart/Sam's Club, which got a D+. While Forest Ethics acknowledges the company's progress in other areas of sustainability, it notes that "major gaps" exist in its paper policy, it sources paper from suppliers tied with logging of endangered forests and conversion of forests to plantation agriculture, and it is an active supporter of SFI.

Costco receiving a D rating and Target receiving a C were also at the bottom of the retail portion of the scorecard.

At the other end of the scale, FedEx Office was praised, receiving an A-.

FedEx Office's policy covers the basics, and the company has aggressively avoided paper from endangered forests and unsustainable plantations in Indonesia and elsewhere, though they still offer a small amount of third party brand paper from the US South. The company was the first in the sector with a solid preference for FSC paper, and avoids SFI greenwash. FedEx Office has also encouraged suppliers and governments in the US South and Canadian Boreal to manage their forests more sustainably. The company can go further in sourcing recycled paper, but has a new internal paper recovery program.

Also receiving top marks were Office Depot and Staples, both with a B rating.

On the different sustainable forestry certifications...
Forest Ethics calls the Sustainable Forestry Initiative outright greenwashing, noting it, "was created by the timber industry to greenwash business-as-usual logging and other controversial and unsustainable practices. Office companies shouldn't undercut their environmental goals or mislead customers by giving preference to SFI products or using SFI's phony eco-label, which does not ensure that products come from genuinely well-managed forests. The same goes for the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, which merely rebrands the SFI."

Conversely, Forest Ethics wholeheartedly backs the Forest Stewardship Council's eco-label, noting that it is "still the only eco-label to provide meaningful assurances" that its products have been produced while still maintaining biodiversity, using a minimum of chemicals, preserving water quality and protecting endangered forests, as well indigenous people's rights.

Check out this photo if you need a more graphic representation of the difference between FSC and SFI-managed forests:

photo: Heart of Green

Check out the whole scorecard: Green Grades 2010 [PDF]

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More on Sustainable Forestry:
A Picture is Worth: FSC vs SFI Forests
Forest Ethics Keeps Up The Pressure Against SFI Certification
Will Barcoding Save Tropical Forests? (Video)

Tags: Environmental Certifications | Forestry


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