Interview: Staples’ EcoEasy Best Practices

Can you name the number two online retailer, second only to

How about a company that has been working on incorporating sustainability into their products for over eight years?

I was more than a little surprised to learn that the office supply company Staples is the answer to those questions.

Staples invited me to be a judge in a truly worthwhile outreach called the Staples Global EcoEasy Challenge. This challenge is an international competition that attracted 84 colleges and universities representing five continents proposing sustainable office product design-innovations. The winning design from the University of Cincinnati was a cleverly designed desk-top surge-protector that with one push of a glowing top button would disconnect the electricity to connected appliances like computers, TVs and printers that still draw power even after a user pushes their “off” button. “Vampire power” accounts for 5% of electricity consumption and this design innovation maybe the “ecoeasy” solution that will cut both emissions and electric bills.

While participating in this challenge I had an opportunity to conduct the following video interview with Dave D’Angelo, Senior Vice President for Staples. Here’s my take away of Staples’ best practices for making money going green:

Price Competitive. Staples regularly talks to their customers. What they heard from them about going green is that this a high priority agenda item. But their customers also expect green products to be price competitive. And that is the Staples’ business plan, to offer price competitive green office products.

Revenue Growth Opportunity. I was more than a little surprised to learn that Staples is the second largest Internet retailer in the world. Staples achieved this result through a strategy for making their customers’ retail experience efficient and “easy.” In doing so Staples has successfully grown their revenues to leadership levels by introducing procurement and delivery efficiencies that also reduce their carbon footprint.

Linking Sustainable Innovation And Business Strategy. What attracted me to be a judge in the Global EcoEasy Challenge was the innovation of engaging college students in sustainable product design. This is representative of how Staples has linked their business strategy to sustainable innovation, what I believe to be an industry leading best practice. I was surprised to learn from Dave that they have a laboratory in Colorado engineering price competitive green cleaning supplies that have been a sales success with Staples customers. I was surprised that Staples has been implementing a continuous improvement process for removing cellulose from their product offerings over the last eight years! Staples is a leader in the use of all-electric delivery trucks that cut emissions and costs.

Watch the following video interview with Dave D’Angelo to learn more about Staples sustainability best practices, including my new favorite product example built upon best practices in product reuse and recycling!

Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017, an open source website posting best practices and major trends on the emerging smart, health and green economy. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles best practices of businesses making money going green.


First Green Business Coach for Founder of EARTH 2017, a website posting economic analysis on disruptive trends impacting communities and businesses. President of NCCT, a consulting company that coaches CEOs and business owners on pricing and marketing best practices proven to win the millennial generation, and their moms, as customers.