Sustainable Products

Wood and Paper

We depend on forests to regulate the water cycle and stabilize soils, to provide a home for diverse plant and animal life, and to furnish us with vital supplies of food, medicines and wood. In addition, we rely on them to absorb carbon dioxide and impede global warming. Yet, an area of forest the size of a football field is cleared every second. That’s 86,400 football fields a day. In tropical forests, it’s estimated that 50,000 species become extinct each year because of deforestation.

The world’s demand for paper and wood also impacts energy and water use. The pulp and paper industry is the world’s fifth-largest industrial consumer of energy and uses more water to produce one ton of product than any other industry.

To address these issues, our Forest and Paper Network aims to:

  • Develop transparency to the wood fiber source with suppliers that manufacture wood-based products;
  • Create incentives for more suppliers to convert to certified wood;
  • Drive category penetration of extended roll paper products; and
  • Push for recovery of wood and paper products while encouraging the use of recycled materials when appropriate to the lifecycle.

By collaborating with our suppliers and changing practices within our own company, we have made progress toward reaching our goals.

We published guidelines for the Wood Furniture Supplier Preference Program. These guidelines will encourage all of our suppliers to embrace transparency for wood fiber and raw materials by 2010 and give preference to suppliers that can already verify use of sustainably harvested and recycled wood fiber. When we discover sustainable factory issues, we are committed to seeking alternatives, or even removing products from shelves. This was the case when we let our suppliers know that we would stop buying cypress mulch – bagged or forested in Louisiana – because of concerns around the loss of cypress forests along the coasts in that state.

Within our own four walls, we’ve introduced tall pallets for paper towels in Sam’s Clubs, which eliminated a middle wooden pallet used in shipping and storage. In addition to saving over 540,000 wood pallets a year, this one change can save us up to $2.3 million. We’ve also introduced approximately 60 different Extended Roll Life (ERL) products in our U.S. Wal-Mart stores and around 10 ERL products in Sam’s Clubs.

In the United Kingdom, all hardwood garden furniture sold at ASDA is now certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an independent, non-profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world’s forests. This certification ensures that the timber used is from a legal, sustainable and renewable forest resource. ASDA’s own brand toilet paper – ASDA Shades – is made with 75 percent virgin material and 25 percent recycled material. All of the material is 100 percent FSC certified. It is the United Kingdom’s top-selling toilet tissue today.

In an effort to ensure that our forests are protected for future generations, our Wood and Paper Network is committed to redesigning the way we source, use and make products from trees. Given the number of products we source – and the number of suppliers we source from – this is a complex task. It’s difficult to know if the products we source are coming from certified suppliers and are being made using legally sustainable practices. This underscores the need for greater transparency in the system, which we are working to achieve.

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Facts and Figures

The pulp and paper industry is the world's fifth-largest industrial consumer of energy and uses more water to produce one ton of product than any other industry.