Four U.S. companies expand commitment to responsible paper by dropping Sustainable Forestry Initiative certification

Photo by Debra Atlas

As consumer demand for green business practices grows, companies continue to seek the best solutions and organizations that will help them meet that demand.

In the business of sustainably sourced wood products, there’s been a steady movement away from one of the more favored providers – Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) that in recent days has become controversial amid numerous allegations of greenwashing nasty business practices.

A growing list of companies have deserted SFI and have instead committed to only promoting the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification and label. This list of 27 major U.S. brands was just joined by four more major companies – Xerox, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Delta Dental and Bigelow Tea.

The move, according to ForestEthics, comes because SFI’s logging industry-run program misleads consumers and allows massive clearcuts, other destructive logging, and human rights abuse.

“The logging and paper industry should realize that misleading consumers is a liability for them, too,” said Jim Ace, ForestEthics, senior campaigner.


California redwood forestIn making the shift to FSC, the companies have updated their policies on sustainability and sourcing:

  • Xerox is no longer directly involved in paper sales or distribution in North America and will work with suppliers to avoid using or promoting the Sustainable Forestry Initiative certification program.
  • “Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is committed to sustainability and works with suppliers who commit to sourcing environmentally responsible paper and fiber that meet only the highest forest protection standards. As part of its Sustainable Meeting Practices, Starwood encourages recycling and is committed to reducing its paper consumption and promoting the use of post-consumer waste recycled paper and fiber. For materials containing virgin fiber, Starwood prefers using and promoting content certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and avoids using, promoting or referencing Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).”
  • “Our group of companies — Delta Dental of California, Delta Dental Insurance Company, Delta Dental of New York, Inc., Delta Dental of Pennsylvania and our affiliated companies — are committed to being an environmentally responsible business, which includes our ability to reduce paper consumption wherever possible and sourcing environmentally responsible paper.” Delta Dental has removed the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) label from its consumer-facing mailings.
  • ” Bigelow Tea recognizes that Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) has the most rigorous forest management standard and is widely considered the gold standard of forest certification. As part of Bigelow Tea’s strong commitment to environmental sustainability, Bigelow Tea will promote the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and will educate our vendors about Bigelow Tea’s purchasing preference for Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper and fiber.”

FSC marketing logo

“FSC is the only forest certification that aligns with these companies’ commitment to protect endangered forests, wildlife, and human rights,” say Ace.“Xerox, Starwood Hotels, Delta Dental, and Bigelow Tea know that consumers expect no greenwashing of damaging logging practices and respect for human rights.”

“This is exactly the kind of corporate leadership on responsible forestry and sustainability that the multi-billion dollar market for green products will reward,” he said.

Looks like consumers speaking up and voting with their dollars is having an impact. And we, along with Nature, all get to win.

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