Green Matters


OPI focuses on sustainability, the environment and the latest news shaping the green agenda within the office products industry.
To contribute to this section, email your eco news to
HP innovates with new Closed Loop programme
In an industry first, Hewlett-Packard last month announced it has developed an engineering breakthrough that enables the use of post-consumer recycled plastics in the production of new original HP inkjet print cartridges.

More than 200 million cartridges have been manufactured using the process so far. HP used more than 2.26 million kg of recycled plastic in its inkjet cartridges last year and is committed to using twice as much in 2008. The company’s innovative recycling process facilitates the combination of multiple sources and grades of recycled plastics – from everyday water bottles to highly technical HP inkjet cartridges.

In addition to closing the design loop, using recycled content saves energy and keeps plastic out of landfills. Since first piloting the process, HP has used enough recycled plastic to fill more than 200 tractor trailers.

"By developing the technology to use recycled plastics in original HP inkjet print cartridges, we have the opportunity to reduce the environmental impact HP products have on the planet," said Michael Hoffmann, senior vice president of the Supplies, Imaging and Printing Group. "HP’s considerable investments in building a recycling infrastructure made this achievement possible, and this is just the beginning of what we hope to accomplish."

In developing this process, HP engineers, chemists and partners dedicated themselves to finding a way to provide the environmental benefits of using recycled materials while still delivering the quality and reliability customers expect from HP.

HP inkjet cartridges returned through HP’s Planet Partners programme undergo a multi-phase recycling process that reduces them to raw materials such as plastics and metals. HP combines plastic from the inkjet cartridges with recycled bottle resin and a suite of compounding additives to ensure all recycled materials meet HP’s high-performance standards.

The amount of recycled content in these HP inkjet cartridges may vary between 70 to 100 percent of the total plastic used, but the reliability results for each product are stringently tested and consistent across the entire line-up.

And unlike a host of companies that simply remanufacture cartridges, HP has found a way to mould these recycled plastic components into entirely new original HP inkjet cartridges.

Corporate Express walks the talk
Corporate Express US last month announced the release of its 2008 Office Products Sourcebook, printed on 30 percent post consumer recycled paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

According to calculations made with the Environmental Defense Paper Calculator, using 30 percent recycled content to print the 2008 Sourcebook, as opposed to using paper without recycled content, will help save an estimated 1,536 tons of wood; 3,882,424 gallons of water; 5,932 million BTUs of energy; 641,490 pounds of solid waste; and 941,438 pounds of CO2 greenhouse gases.

Rick Merdan, product manager for NewPage, the paper manufacturing company that provided the FSC-certified paper, stated: "We commend Corporate Express for its commitment to sustainable environmental actions including the production of its Sourcebook on our leading Arbor design products, which contain 30 percent post consumer recycled fibre, and which have forest management chain of custody certification from the FSC, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification."

The FSC is an international organisation that promotes responsible stewardship of the world’s forests. The FSC certification label enables consumers to recognise products that support the growth of responsible forest management across the world.

Jay Mutschler, president of Corporate Express US, said: "As a company, we believe in making responsible choices to reduce our environmental impact, and printing this important catalogue on 30 percent post consumer recycled paper that is FSC certified is another example of that commitment.

"Helping complete the loop, we also have a nationwide recycling programme for our customers to easily recycle their old Sourcebooks and catalogues by simply giving them to their Corporate Express drivers."

The company will also print several 2008 speciality catalogues, including its government, IRS, diversity, school supplies, facility products and local Alaska catalogues, on FSC-certified 30 percent post consumer recycled paper. Corporate Express’ move towards FSC paper in many of its catalogues is a part of the company’s comprehensive sustainability efforts to reduce environmental impact through goals for facilities and distribution operations, sustainable forestry, environmentally sustainable products and social responsibility.

In addition to reducing its impact on the environment, Corporate Express said it also wants to make it easier for its customers to buy green. The 2008 Sourcebook features over 2,600 environmentally-friendly products, and the company plans to continue expanding its green product offerings, which includes:

• A new line of environmentally-preferred Sustainable Earth cleaning products, which aim to meet all of an organisation’s typical facility and janitorial cleaning needs
• An exclusive Corporate Express Brands Earthsaver recycled paper, with 30, 50 and 100 percent post consumer recycled content choice
• A wide selection of environmentally-friendly furniture for offices, cubicles, break rooms and conference rooms
• A full line of compostable break room supplies such as plates, bowls, cups and utensils.

Green supplier makes power list
An eco-friendly stationery firm has entered the UK’s list of fastest-growing private companies after reporting impressive revenues of £8.4 million ($16.5 million) in just four years.

Phase Office Supplies offers a green alternative for its customers.

"Wherever possible, we supply environmentally-friendly products – they’re in great demand by most clients," explains Alan Sames, managing director of Phase Office Supplies.

"All our paper is either recycled or contains between 75 and 80 percent of fibre sourced from Forest Stewardship Council-certified forests," he adds. "The balance is made up from long-fibre pulp brought in from 100 percent sustainable forests. This means it carries the highest environmental certification possible."

Phase Office Supplies also makes sure that no hardwood is used for its office furniture supplies, and all its products are researched, tested and selected by specialist sourcing teams.

Says Sames: "We also use electric vehicles to make our deliveries, and the products are all delivered using re-usable Tote boxes instead of cardboard.

"Selling eco-friendly products is no longer being seen as a ‘nice to have’. Rather, it’s become an essential means of driving the business forward."

Offices outstrip others with energy demands
The energy demands of offices are expected to grow at twice the rate of commercial environments, according to a recent research report. McKinsey released a 107-page document, Reducing US Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much at What Cost?, which is based on two years of research and is the product of the company’s long-running US Greenhouse Gas Abatement Mapping Initiative.

The project was completed in conjunction with companies such as Shell and Honeywell, as well as various non-governmental organisations. The authors claim that implementing energy efficiencies could offset 85 percent of projected energy demands by 2030. That’s considerably more impact than increasing fuel efficiency in vehicles, replacing industrial equipment and industrial processes that are not energy efficient, planting forests and improving soil, or shifting toward renewable energy sources.

Using projections from the US Energy Department, the authors state that overall energy use in commercial environments is predicted to rise at a rate of 1.6 percent yearly for the next 22 years. The energy used in offices of PCs and power-guzzling devices is expected to grow at twice that rate.

Depot breaks ground
Following the plans first being revealed by OPI, Office Depot last month broke ground on its newest store in Austin, Texas, which will double as the retailer’s first ever "green" location.

The 21,000 sq ft store – being designed and built for LEED certification – is expected to open later this summer.

Office Depot has developed an environmental plan that calls for the Delray Beach-based company to "increasingly buy green, be green and sell green".

The store will incorporate energy efficient lighting, light sensors in offices and restrooms, water efficient fixtures, floors made of 60 percent recycled materials and low carbon-emitting building materials throughout.

Staples dumps "non-green" supplier
Big box retailer Staples has reportedly dropped Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), one of the world’s largest paper companies, as a supplier due to concerns over its environmental performance, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Calling APP a "great peril to our brand" for its alleged logging of wildlife-rich rainforests in Indonesia, Staples said it will now look to other suppliers for its branded photocopy and office paper. APP had accounted for roughly 9 percent of Staples-branded stock.

"We decided engagement was not possible anymore," Mark Buckley, vice president for environmental issues at Staples, told the WSJ. "We haven’t seen any indication that APP has been making any positive strides" to protect the environment.

Earlier, Staples had said it hoped that engagement with APP would prompt the firm to change its sourcing policies.

The announcement comes at a difficult time for APP, which has faced widespread condemnation from green groups for its environmental record. In October, following an inquiry from the WSJ, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a forest certification body, rejected APP’s planned use of a logo indicating its products met FSC environmental standards.

Earlier, a partnership with environmental group WWF soured when it became evident that APP continued to log old growth forests for paper pulp. Still, APP has "made up for lost orders from big Western buyers by selling more in the Middle East, India and Bangladesh, where environmental concerns are not such an issue," reported the WSJ.

COLOP stamps its mark with eco-friendly first
Turning a few heads at this year’s Paperworld was the world’s first-ever ‘green’ stamp from COLOP.

The firm’s new Green Line stamp has been made using sustainable and predominantly recycled materials, including packaging made from 100 percent uncoloured recycled cardboards.

Claiming to be the market leader and stealing a march on its big Austrian rival (and neighbour) Trodat, the manufacturer said it was keen for customers to realise that the new range was a development of an already established environmental policy.

"It is a matter of company culture and conviction that COLOP endeavours to make the biggest possible contribution to protect and preserve the environment," said marketing manager Gerald Binder. "The second reason is that COLOP is always working to offer the most promising products to our international customers. The demand for ecologically-made products in the office products market is rapidly growing."

This predicted growth will see more products released under the Green Line mantle in the future, with the company investing marketing and R&D spend into its new range. Binder said that using recycled materials required adaptations of the current manufacturing process and promised that COLOP would "work even closer together with its suppliers" to keep in touch with the latest developments in the field of eco-friendly materials. But it will have to work fast to keep its competitors at bay.

"COLOP has underlined once again its leadership in terms of product innovation. For us this also means that we may never stand still to lead this topic in the stamp business," he added.

UPM delivers eco-production
UPM and Lassila & Tikanoja (L&T) have developed a new ethanol and energy production concept that, for the first time, utilises commercial and industrial waste. UPM and L&T have studied the concept under laboratory conditions in cooperation with the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) and will now begin extensive testing at VTT’s Rajamäki unit. The objective is to be ready by the end of the year to decide on building a commercial-scale plant.

In the production concept developed by UPM and L&T, ethanol and energy are produced from commercial and industrial waste, such as paper, cardboard, wood and plastic. The paper industry’s de-inking sludge, which is generated in mills that use recycled fibre when printing ink is removed from recovered paper, is also a suitable raw material. When mixed with petrol, ethanol manufactured from these raw materials was, until now, only suitable and could be used partly for traffic biofuel.

The planned ethanol and energy production plant can operate in connection with a waste treatment unit or a paper mill. Part of the waste used as raw material is utilised for generating ethanol and another part for generating energy. The solution makes it possible to manufacture cost-effective second-generation biofuels for traffic in Europe without endangering the raw material supply of the forest industry.

In the EU’s recent energy and climate package, it is considered that biofuels produced from waste and ligno-cellulosic material contribute to the mitigation of climate change more than other biofuels. Their contribution in the targeted consumption volume set by the EU is considered to be twice that of traditional biofuels.

Utilising commercial and industrial waste in the production of ethanol and energy causes remarkably less greenhouse gas emissions than dumping the waste at a landfill. Making ethanol from waste puts less stress on the climate than its production from grain, which is the traditional raw material. In addition, using waste promotes the recycling of material in accordance with the principles of sustainable development.