NOVEMBER 2010
                                        

Staples revamps products and packaging strategy

Staples, Inc., the world’s largest office products company, has announced a new corporate strategy to drive sustainability innovation in product manufacturing, packaging and distribution by challenging its key suppliers to join it in a “Race to The Top.” The company detailed the challenge to its key suppliers at its Supplier Summit which took place in Boston on October 22.

In its Race to The Top sustainability strategy, Staples calls on suppliers to compete not only in terms of product quality, cost and features, but in finding innovative solutions for product manufacturing, packaging and distribution which reduce impacts on the planet. The strategy aims to increase environmental, economic and social sustainability and remove waste and inefficiency of all types.

“Viewing our business through the lens of environmental and social sustainability will lead to better results for our customers, our shareholders and our communities,” said Ron Sargent, Staples’ chairman and chief executive officer. “It’s the right thing to do for our business and for all our stakeholders. The results of this challenge will help make it easy for customers to run their businesses more efficiently, with less impact on natural resources.”

The importance of the strategy was outlined at the supplier summit. “We’re letting our key suppliers know that sustainable business practices will join price, quality and service as a major factor in driving purchasing decisions,” said Jevin Eagle, executive vice president of merchandising and marketing at Staples. “Starting now and over time, we’ll work with all of our suppliers in a Race to The Top to improve product sustainability and quality and reduce cost.”

As immediate steps, Staples is asking its key suppliers to address environmentally sustainable packaging priorities in the next six months. These steps will reduce impacts on natural resources by using less or alternative packaging materials for products in the company’s delivery and retail businesses as well as for bulk shipments received from suppliers.

Staples’ strategy includes collaboratively developing sustainability scorecards for products and packaging. The scorecards will track design innovations and environmental attributes, driving more accountability throughout the supply chain. Supplier scorecard designations will increasingly be scientifically-based and focused on the sustainability attributes that matter most for particular types of products.

“Staples has been focused on sustainability for some time – from the products we offer to our own internal operations,” said Mark Buckley, vice president of environmental affairs at Staples. “Now, by working closely with our key suppliers on sustainable packaging and products, we’ll begin to drive continuous improvement more quickly across the lifecycle of products that we offer customers every day. This is particularly important work given that products represent the largest part of the company’s overall environmental footprint. In other words, we’re going after what matters most and changing the way our products get to market.”

Staples’ new corporate strategy for product and packaging sustainability is the company’s most significant move in a series of industry-changing initiatives, including:

  • In March 2008, Staples’ Copy & Print Centers introduced 50 percent post-consumer recycled FSC-certified paper as the standard offering for high-speed black and white copying, becoming the first national copy and print operation to do so.
  • In May 2007, Staples became the first retailer to launch a nationwide in-store technology recycling program.
  • In 2007, Staples became the first retailer to offer its own brand of recycled content copy and print papers certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, a leading certification standard for sustainable forest management.
  • In 2002, Staples became the first in the office products industry to establish an environmental paper procurement policy.