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Office Depot to Drop SFI Label Amid Forestry Standards Spat

April 7, 2011

Office Depot is one of four Fortune 500 companies to announce phase-out of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative label, stemming from an industry spat that brings the group’s standards and practices into question.

SFI logoThe ethics debate between Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and SFI has been going on for some time and came to a head recently when Office Depot -- as well as Aetna, Allstate, Symantec – announced their plans to discontinue using SFI certification labeling, according to a GreeBiz report.

“SFI is dangerous because it is a lie -- it tells consumers that the product bearing the label is green when it isn't. SFI allows logging in old growth, logging in endangered species habitat, clearcut logging on landslide prone slopes above salmon streams...In other words, business as usual with a ‘green’ façade,” said Todd Paglia, executive director of the activist group ForestEthics. “When industry is helping write the rules and set its own standards they will be high on rhetoric and extremely low on substance. That is SFI: This is a fake eco-label of, by, and for the forest industry.”

SFI countered with this statement on its web site: “ForestEthics continues to peddle pulp fiction about the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, repeating the same old inaccurate and misleading information. With just 10 percent of the world's forests certified to any certification standard, groups should work together to increase responsible forestry. Instead, ForestEthics spends energy and resources on well-funded attacks to discredit SFI, often citing outdated, incomplete, inaccurate or misleading information.”

John FaillaGRD Views: I generally don’t pay much attention to “he said, she said” debates. In this case, the decision of four major companies to pull out of the program makes you wonder if there is merit to ForestEthics' claims. Seems to me, SFI has some work to do here beyond attacking the messenger. -- John Failla for Green Retail Decisions