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Office Depot Recycling Earnings up 37%; CO2 Down 11%

In 2010 Office Depot earned $2.43 million from recycling, up 37% from 2009, according to its 2011 Corporate Citizenship Report.

The company, which has a goal of earning more money from product recycling than it spends on sending waste to landfills, also reduced waste costs by 4 percent to $3.81 million. In 2010, Office Depot recycled 59 percent of waste from its operations, up from 58 percent in 2009, en route to a target of 80 percent.

Office Depot reduced its scope 1 and 2 carbon footprint from facilities by over 11 percent in 2010, from 358,000 to 319,000 metric tons. The company says a small percentage of its overall carbon footprint reduction was due to a change in ownership of its data center, which it outsourced in late 2010.

It has a target of cutting its carbon footprint to under 300,000 tons, a 25 percent reduction from a 2005 baseline. Like most in the report, the carbon goal does not have a target year.

The company says it cut its cost of electricity by over $15 million a year compared to 2008. Office Depot changed nearly 150 HVAC systems to more efficient versions and also found a surprisingly simple solution to reducing energy use from lighting fixtures: it removed one light out of three, from tens of thousands of fixtures. This program didn’t result in darker stores, the company says, because as it de-lamped, it installed reflectors to allow the same light output with one fewer light.

In 2010 the company transitioned almost all delivery away from dedicated Office Depot vehicles to third party carriers who co-mingle Office Depot products with those from other companies. This means that vehicles do not need to drive dedicated routes just for Office Depot. Third party carriers can better utilize vehicle space, the company says, and Office Depot can then spend more time managing goods rather than the complexities of a fleet.

Office Depot says the transition has likely led to significant reduction in transportation greenhouse gases, but that third-party transportation vendors were unable to provide scope 3 GHG emissions data for 2010. In 2011 it says it will work with carriers to find accurate proxies for Office Depot-related fuel and related greenhouse gases.

The company says it encourages suppliers to “go greener,” but its real scope 3 focus is on customers. In 2010 it achieved $478 million in sales for mid- and dark green products under its GreenerOffice rating system. The company is targeting $600 million in contract sales of such items.

The estimated total U.S. sales of products with green attributes (all shades of green) rose from $2.29 billion to $2.45 billion in 2010. Only products with at least $1,000 sales were included. But in 2010 the company’s number of products rated light green, mid green or dark green fell slightly to 9,000, from 9,200 in 2009.

In 2010 Office Depot started tracking and reporting the number of greener products which also have third-party ecolabels – and counted 1,500 such items, a 76 percent increase in known ecolabeled assortment from the prior year. The average postconsumer recycled content of copy paper sold rose from 4.1 to 4.9 percent, and the percent of copy paper from certified sources rose from 92 to 94 percent. Office Depot says it is one of the world’s largest resellers of paper and paper products.

The weight of end-of-life materials recovered from customers rose from an estimated 5,600 short tons in 2009 to an estimated 7,000 short tons in 2010. In that year Office Depot launched a technology trade-in program and writing instrument “recycling brigades,” meeting its target of launching at least one new product take-back service each year

In 2010 the company also piloted its GreenOffice Delivery Service, which delivers everyday office supplies in paper bags instead of cardboard boxes. Based on the 96 percent adoption rate in the pilot region of the Pacific Northwest, Office Depot pursued U.S.-wide implementation in 2011.

The company says that if it hits a target of replacing 5 million boxes with 5 million bags, which weigh substantially less, it will use 3,000 tons less wood, equivalent to over 20,000 trees; cut CO2 emissions by over 7.7 million lbs; and reduce solid waste by over 1.3 million pounds.

Office Depot used 64 percent FSC-certified papers in its own marketing in 2010. With technical assistance from World Wildlife Fund, it says it is planning to update its long-standing Environmental Paper Purchasing Policy and to expand its use of FSC to other paper categories.

In 2010, at its Global HQ in Boca Raton, Florida, over 90 percent of the copy paper it used contained recycled content, and 44 percent of its total spend on office products met the company’s mid or dark green ratings. But the percent of the company’s own office product spend with mid green or dark green attributes fell from 46 to 44 percent.

Environmental data included in the 2011 Corporate Citizenship Report was reviewed by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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