ReThink Paper

Earth Island News

ReThink Paper

For the past two years, ReThink Paper has participated in “The Paper Campaign,” targeting the Staples company to improve its environmental policy. Efforts included more than 600 protests at Staples stores nationwide, a public service announcement featuring rock legends R.E.M., and thousands of letters and calls directed to Staples CEO Ron Sargent.

Success came on November 12, 2002, when Staples Inc. announced a commitment to achieve an average of 30 percent post-consumer recycled content in all paper products they sell, and to phase out purchases of paper products from endangered forests. Following the victory with Staples, The Paper Campaign began encouraging Staples’ two leading competitors - Office Depot and Office Max - to meet or beat Staples’ landmark policy.

The Southeast US, home to Office Depot’s corporate headquarters and the most biodiverse forests in the nation, is the largest paper-producing region in the world. Office Depot’s home state, Florida, projects the loss of 58 percent of its native forest cover by 2040, due largely to paper production funded by companies like Office Depot. Successful targeting of these companies to reverse such destructive practices will generate a ripple effect throughout the office supply industry.

On April 22, 2003 (Earth Day), Office Depot announced its Environmental Paper Purchasing Policy, which does incorporate some improvements, but falls short in several key areas, such as the protection of endangered forests. As a result, the company has continued to be the target of dozens of environmental protests.

The campaign against OfficeMax is currently suspended pending the company’s acquisition by Boise Cascade Corporation. ReThink Paper is optimistic that Boise/OfficeMax will incorporate a strong environmental protection plan into the company’s philosophy, based on Boise Cascade Corporation’s recent announcement of its new policy, “Boise and the Environment.” The announcement of this policy follows a multi-year campaign led by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and a coalition of groups, including American Lands Alliance, ReThink Paper, Student Environmental Action Coalition, National Forest Protection Alliance, the Sierra Student Coalition, Free The Planet!, and many others. According to the document, the company’s policy makes Boise “the first US forest products company to adopt a comprehensive environmental statement and the first distributor of wood and paper products to extend an environmental policy to its suppliers.”

In this new policy, Boise commits to identifying endangered forests in certain key regions, including Chile, Indonesia, and Canada, and to eliminating the purchase of wood from these areas. Boise has also agreed to stop cutting timber from old-growth forests in the US beginning in 2004. The company will also start giving purchasing preference to suppliers that provide paper and wood products from certified, well-managed forests whenever feasible. To help enforce its new policy, Boise vows to begin tracking the origins of paper and wood products it receives through a thorough supply chain management system.

While Boise’s policy makes great strides toward protecting forests, it has some serious weaknesses, including the company’s continued involvement in Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification, its public lands logging, and its failure to protect parcels of old-growth forest smaller than 5,000 acres. RAN plans to work with Boise to implement and strengthen Boise’s policy.

Take Action: Support Staples, or view other paper options at ReThink Paper’s website at or Visit to help persuade Office Depot to implement an environmental policay that protects endangered forests. Support RTP’s program work and become a member. A $50 membership gets you an ecological paper sample packet. See page 12 for contact info.

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