SAVING TREES THE SMART WAY

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SAVING TREES THE SMART WAY

 user 2006-03-23 at 11:08:00 am Views: 69
  • #15087

    Saving trees the smart way
    Timber
    firms, customers and environmental groups are working together to get
    companies to use more “green” paper, but some forests remain
    endangered.March , 2006

    NEW YORK  – In this season of annual reports, Corporate America is putting on a green face.
    Home
    Depot , Johnson & Johnson , JP Morgan Chase , McDonald’s, Lowe’s 
    and Wal-Mart  will print their reports on paper that meets the exacting
    standards of the Forest Stewardship Council, an alliance of nonprofits
    and paper companies aimed at promoting sustainable forestry.
    Meanwhile,
    11 big companies that buy tons and tons of paper, including Bank of
    America , Hewlett Packard , Staples , Toyota  and the Time Inc.
    division of Time Warner publisher of CNNMoney.com and fortune have
    formed the Paper Working Group, a coalition aimed at using their
    purchasing power to make “environmentally preferable paper” more
    available and affordable.
    This is good public relations for now and
    good business in the long run, since no big company wants to see
    deforestation, destruction of wildlife habitats and unpredictable
    climate change. (Forests help slow down global warming.) The question
    is, are these corporate initiatives making a significant difference?
    A complex business
    It’s
    a hard question to answer, in part because the forestry business is
    global, complex and under financial stress. There’s no doubt that
    sustainable forestry is a big trend — the acreage certified by the
    FSC, whose supporters range from activist groups like Greenpeace to big
    Canadian timber firms like Domtar and Mohawk Paper, has more than
    doubled in the past 3 years. About 68 million hectares have been
    certified by FSC.
    A competing standard called the Sustainable
    Forestry Initiative, backed by big U.S. firms like Weyerhauser and
    International Paper, has certified even more land. Somewhere between 6
    and 10 percent of the world’s harvestable forests are certified as
    sustainably managed. The standards are only about 10 years old, so
    that’s progress.
    The trouble is, about 60 percent of America’s
    commercial forests are owned by private landowners, about 10 million of
    them. For various reasons, they have a harder time getting their land
    certified. Forest land in North American is also being sold for real
    estate development. And timber production is shifting to South America
    and Asia, where trees grow faster but environmental protections are
    weaker.
    “Forestry practices are improving, but the threats continue
    to grow as well,” says Justin Ward, director of the agriculture,
    forestry and fisheries programs at Conservation International, a
    Washington-based environmental group that works closely with business.
    “The greatest threats are in the world’s tropical forests.”
    More
    than half of the tropical forests have been deforested, he says, and
    another 1 percent is lost each year. Some wood is used locally for fuel
    or housing, so don’t blame big business for that.
    Catalogs: Where trees go to die
    But
    pulp produced in the global south also finds its way back to the United
    States and Europe where, despite e-mail, paper consumption continues to
    grow. (The U.S. ranks No. 2 in the world, behind Belgium.) One reason
    why: Roughly 18 billion catalogs were mailed last year, which comes to
    64 for each person in America, according to Time magazine.
    A single
    retailer, Victoria’s Secret, mails about 390 million catalogs a year –
    more than 1 million a day. Some of its paper comes from old-growth
    forests.
    “It just doesn’t get any worse than that,” says Todd Paglia
    of Forest Ethics, an advocacy group that is running a campaign called
    Victoria’s Dirty Secret at http://www.victoriasdirtysecret.net.
    Limited
    Brands, which owns Victoria’s Secret, as well as Express, The Limited,
    and Bath & Body Works, says it is trying to improve its
    environmental stewardship. The company prints some catalogs on recycled
    stock, along with its annual report.
    Working together
    Debate over
    forestry practices has long divided environmentalists and loggers.
    What’s new are the initiatives that bring together timber firms,
    customers and environmental groups.
    Rainforest Alliance, a New
    York-based nonprofit, works with forestry companies and their customers
    to promote the use of FSC-certified paper and wood. Liza Murphy of the
    alliance says: “This is not about ‘put a fence around the forest so
    nobody can use it.’ It’s about ways everybody can win.”
    David Ford.,
    the CEO of Metafore, a nonprofit which organized the Paper Working
    Group, is pushing for more transparency, so that big buyers can know
    the full impact of their paper purchases, including how much energy and
    water is consumed to produce and ship it. His partner companies are
    looking at everything from the kinds of business cards they use to the
    packaging required to ship automobile parts.
    “There really is power in specifying how you are going to spend your money,” he says.
    Complicated as the issue may be, companies and consumers can take simple steps to make a difference.
    Companies
    can buy certified paper, and not just for their annual reports.
    Environmentalists favor the FSC standard, which is tougher than the
    industry-backed SFI standard, although the differences are narrowing.
    Individuals
    also can buy certified or recycled paper. Staples and Office Depot
    promote 30 percent recycled paper, which costs about 20 cents a ream
    more than regular paper.