Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sustainable Forestry Initiative Losing Support

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2015 at 3:06 PM

  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative
Today in dead tree branding ... Xerox, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Delta Dental and Bigelow Tea have joined 27 other major companies in distancing themselves from controversial eco-label Sustainable Forestry Initiative. SFI has garnered criticism from environmental groups for what they deem to be a "greenwashing" campaign, saying that forest products that carry the label are often harvested using unsustainable practices such as clearcutting and herbicide use.

"It is good news that the brands are dropping SFI," says Dan Ehresman of the Northcoast Environmental Center. "There has definitely been a long-standing dialogue around SFI versus [Forest Stewardship Council] certification. SFI seems to have more ... practices that are not truly sustainable."

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has been pushed in recent years as the gold standard for sustainable forestry practices, but in 2013 some environmental advocates protested its certification of Green Diamond (formerly the Simpson Timber Company), saying that the company's practices did not measure up to FSC standards. Green Diamond is also SFI-certified. A previous article about this controversy garnered a letter to the editor from SFI Senior Vice President of Customer Affairs Jason Metnick, who stated "The science-based SFI standard is developed through an open, transparent process that includes public comment periods and workshops through which everyone is welcome to participate."

From ForestEthics:

Four Major U.S. Brands Drop SFI, Expand Commitment to Responsible Paper: Xerox, Starwood Hotels Will Promote Only FSC-Certification and Label

[Bellingham, WA] Environmental watchdog ForestEthics announced today that four major US brands, Xerox, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Delta Dental, and Bigelow Tea, have expanded their commitment to support and promote responsible forestry by distancing their brands from the controversial Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) paper and wood certification and labeling.

The four companies join a list of 27 major US brands that will avoid promoting SFI because, according to ForestEthics, the logging industry-run program misleads consumers and allows massive clearcuts, other destructive logging, and human rights abuse.

“SFI is a serious liability to any brand that cares about its environmental reputation,” says Jim Ace, ForestEthics, senior campaigner. “The logging and paper industry should realize that misleading consumers is a liability for them, too."

The companies have each 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 our 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 (PCW) 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 constantly strives to deepen our commitment to environmental responsibility. As a part of that effort, we engage and educate our vendors about sustainability best practices. 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 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.”

“We applaud Xerox, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Delta Dental, and Bigelow Tea, and the dozens of other companies for protecting healthy forests, wildlife, and communities,” says Ace. “This is exactly the kind of corporate leadership on responsible forestry and sustainability that the multi-billion dollar market for green products will reward.”

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Linda Stansberry

Linda Stansberry

Linda Stansberry was a staff writer of the North Coast Journal from 2015 to 2018. She is a frequent contributor the the Journal and our other publications.

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