Resources

Office Supplies Company Staples Ditches Polluting Paper Producer

Posted on February 11, 2008. Filed under: General, Green Marketing, Resources |

The paper sector is an obvious a target for green activism, so this weekend’s breaking news that Staples, the big US office supplies retailer, severed all ties with its Singaporean paper supplier because of environmental concerns shouldn’t be that surprising. But the events that led to Staples’ move are rather interesting; a Wall Street Street Journal reporter had discovered that the company was going to use its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo and tipped off the FSC about the environmental policies of APP.

APP’s paper producing methods have incited environmental concerns because it in part relies on natural rainforests. In recent years a hoist of US, Asian and European companies terminated their contracts with APP, one after the other. All cited environmental concerns as their reason. The giant retailer Office Depot Inc. was also in the list.

The WSJ reporter’s action resulted in the FSC’s objection to Staples’ use of its label (which is considered the world’s most stringent), which certifies responsible management of the world’s forests. A Staples spokesman last weekend told the Wall Street Journal “We decided engagement was not possible anymore. We haven’t seen any indication that APP has been making any positive strides [to protect the environment.]”. He added that staying in business with APP would come “at great peril to our brand.”

It’s obvious; Staples is concerned that its customers won’t be enamored with forest destructive paper production methods. APP has a policy of producing paper from newly planted forests but says that due to huge demand, it needs to cut trees from mature rainforests as well. This practice is, in the Wall Street’s Journal’s terms, ‘having an impact on big U.S. paper buyers’.

The big question now of course is whether APP, one of the world’s largest paper manufacturers, will stop its destruction. The incentive is rather limited; Staples purchased only around 9% of its total paper supplies from APP. The bulk of it was photocopy and office paper. The WSJ didn’t manage to get a reply from APP immediately, but perhaps later this week, when Staples officially announces its decision, there will be more information. Subscribe to this blog’s feed and stay posted.

The energy and pollution factors of various differing paper types can be calculated down to the amount of trees via a model devised by Environmental Defense. The calculator lists all the main paper types and enables you to compare them on energy usage, waste production, trees chopped down, greenhouse gases produced and waste water used. For instance, the difference between 100 tonnes of normal copy paper compared to 100 tonnes of glossy magazine paper is a whopping 509 trees and 34,943 lbs of greenhouse gases, not to speak of the other measures.

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Despite these stunning numbers, the alternative to wood-sourced paper is by no means rosy, because recycling paper involves use of (rather mild) chemicals like sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide. For starters, the recycled paper de-inked and bleached so all coloring is removed to prevent the paper from turning out too dark. The ensuing pulping process also involves plenty of chemicals.

For a detailed guide on various papers’ compositions, check out CeleryDesign. The breakdown is by papers’ fiber content, chlorine and weight.

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There are three types of FSC certified papers, including a recently introduced ‘recycled’ label. To carry this label a material must be made from 100% recycled paper. To see which papers come with what kind of certification, visit the UK recycling debunker site LovelyAsATree.

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Imagining Life without Oil

Posted on February 5, 2008. Filed under: Resources |

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The long held uncertainty surrounding the amount of oil yet to be discovered and extracted from the earth leads many people to ponder: what would life really be like without oil? An article by Bob Jent, the CEO of Western Pipeline Corporation.

While it may be impossible to accurately determine the true extent of the changes that would be associated with life without oil, one thing is certain–many of the conveniences with which we are comfortably familiar would never have existed without oil and the processes humans have developed to utilize it. Petroleum products have infiltrated our lives to an astronomical extent. Even products which are not directly petroleum derived are often produced by machines and processes dependent on oil and transported by oil-dependent means.

Imagine for a moment that the oil supply in the world is exhausted. The most visible difference you may notice in this scenario is the absence of millions of fuel powered cars dotting the roadways, but the use of oil to produce gasoline is just a drop in the bucket as compared to the rest of its endless uses.

Brainstorm for a moment about the number of plastic products you use and encounter each day, and you will realize that plastic has practically endless applicability. What many people do not realize is that plastic itself is a petroleum product. The keyboard you are using right now may have its roots in an oil reservoir deep within the earth, not to mention other commonly used oil products such as deodorant, trash bags, toothbrushes, the list goes on.

The synthetic fibers used in many types of clothing and shoes are also, you guessed it, petroleum derived. Polyester, rayon, and nylon are just a few examples. And when you wash such clothing, you once again experience the power of oil by way of petroleum derived laundry detergent. It seems that practically nothing is exempt from oil and its influence, and the food industry is no exception. The production of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides used in farming rely on oil and natural gas in production.

Experts predict that the world’s supply of oil will someday diminish. The prospect of losing such a valuable natural resource is unimaginable to the oil dependent inhabitants of the world today. Today, oil has a stronghold on the economy and will remain a critical resource for human consumption for years to come.

Disclosure: Bob Jent is the CEO of Western Pipeline Corporation. Western Pipeline Corp specializes in identifying, acquiring and developing existing, producing reserves on behalf of its individual clients.

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