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Prudent paper procurement for mailers

Jun 1, 2009 12:00 AM

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The mailing industry must incorporate environmental management practices that support sustainable forestry and paper recycling. Sustainable forestry and sound paper manufacturing and procurement processes will lead to long-term economic and environmental benefits for the industry as well as the planet.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the American Forest Foundation and the Canadian Standards Association set standards for forest certification in North America. These organizations trace wood from a sustainable forest using a chain-of-custody tracking system. Any paper or cardboard product that contains a portion of wood from a sustainable forest is clearly identified on that product's packaging. Both the SFI and the FSC systems also provide assurance that wood from non-certified forests are at a minimum, harvested legally and from areas not considered ecologically sensitive.

Mailers should develop an organizational “Paper Procurement & Sustainable Forestry Standard or Procedure.” Key considerations include the following:

  • Source materials from only those companies that demonstrate a commitment to environmental and resource stewardship practices including sustainable forestry certification. A standards-based approach to supply chain management helps ensure that a buyer's environmentally responsible values are reflected in products and services purchased from a supplier. With greater visibility into an extended, global network of suppliers it is much easier to pinpoint businesses that are in line with these values.
  • Strive to increase the percentage of recovered fiber in the paper and cardboard products sourced through suppliers; increase your own on- and off-site paper and cardboard recycling.
  • Take advantage of forums that can provide your procurement group with a base of knowledge from which to evaluate paper products, such as The Environmental Paper Assessment Tool (EPAT) ( EPAT helps organizations select paper products that are environmentally sound while considering the end-user's performance requirements. This tool was developed by the nonprofit environmental group Metafore ( and is maintained by the Paper Working Group, a collaboration of Metafore and 11 leading companies.


Paul Robbertz is vice president, global environment, health & safety, Pitney Bowes