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OfficeMax Releases New Paper Procurement Policy, Activists Giddy

After a seven-year campaign against it by environmentalist groups, OfficeMax has released a new paper procurement policy that defines performance criteria for its product suppliers in the selection of raw materials and production of paper products.

OfficeMax says it developed the policy through a consultative process that included viewpoints from environmental organizations.

Forest Ethics and The Dogwood Alliance have been campaigning against OfficeMax for years – mostly through PR blitzes that attacked its corporate value. “Wall Street is notoriously susceptible to psychological manipulation,” said Perrin DeJong, a Chicago-based organizer with ForestEthics, in a 2006 interview with the New Standard. “You start getting these negative headlines: ‘?OfficeMax is the industry leader in endangered forest destruction; it’s accelerating climate change and destroying people’s livelihoods.’ People are going to want to start pulling their money out of the company if you don’t get rid of these protests.”

The campaign did not directly call for a boycott of OfficeMax. As DeJong said: “Instead we’re going to them and saying, ‘?We’re not going to leave you alone until you meet our demands.’”

OfficeMax’s new policy meets most of the demands -the Dogwood Alliance was quick to point out that OfficeMax still had room for improvement. What’s not clear is whether or not OfficeMax will pay suppliers more and what, if any, added costs will be passed on to consumers.

Among the new policy’s stated expectations for product suppliers are the tracking of raw materials used in the making of paper products, elimination of products from endangered areas and discontinuation of converting natural forests to industrial tree plantations.

OfficeMax has notified its suppliers about areas of concern to environmental groups; the Cumberland Plateau, specifically identified by Dogwood Alliance, and First Nations’ concerns about the impact of fiber originating from Canadian forests, an issue specifically identified by ForestEthics.

Last year, major brands receiving pressure from Forest Ethics also made announcements that they were embracing the environmental cause and that paper used in catalogs would come from environmentally friendly, sustainably harvested sources.

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