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Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Seven Companies Opt Out of Sustainable Forestry Initiative Label

Seven companies, including four from the Fortune 500, committed to not using Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s (SFI) label on paper products or company publications. The seven companies are Aetna, Allstate, Garnet Hill, Office Depot, Performance Bicycles, Symantec, and United Stationers. One clue to why the companies will no longer use the SFI label lies in the 2009 complaints filed by ForestEthics with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) alleging that SFI uses deceptive marketing and serves private companies for profit interests but operates as a charity.

The seven companies’ commitments include:

  • Aetna will phase out its use of the SFI logo on printed marketing materials

  • Allstate will shift all office paper in its nationwide facilities from SFI certified to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified

  • United Stationers will use FSC for forest certification in procurement and marketing

  • Symantec removed SFI language from its website and committed to integrating its position on SFI into internal practices for paper marketing materials and packaging

  • Garnet Hill will not print its catalog on paper labeled with the SFI seal

  • Performance Bicycles will not print its catalog on SFI certified paper

  • Office Deport will phase out its use of the SFI logo on its brand papers

"SFI's greenwashing of business as usual forest destruction is toxic for companies with strong environmental values and commitments," said Aaron Sanger of ForestEthics. "These brands want tools and certifications that are truly green and build their credibility, not tools like SFI that are being investigated for misleading consumers."

SFI is a load of greenwashing according to ForestEthics report

ForestEthics released a report last November titled SFI: Certified Greenwash. The report debunks four claims made by SFI, which include the claims that SFI is independent, is backed by rigorous, third party audits, through SFI certification a company can accurately identify how much SFI certified content is in a product, and SFI practices sustainable forestry.

  1. Claim: SFI is independent.
    Truth: SFI was created in 1994 by the paper and timber industry, according to the report, for the benefit of the paper and timber industry. It is an outgrowth of the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), the primary trade association for the $175 billion US paper and timber products sector. In 2001, SFI was made a non-profit in 2001. However, the report claims that “little else has changed since it was more formally a division of AF&PA.” SFI’s board of directors includes Rick R. Holley, President & CEO, Plum Creek Timber Company; John Faraci, Chairman & CEO, International Paper;Daniel S. Fulton, President & CEO, Weyerhaeuser Companyand Robert A. Luoto, The American Logger Council.

  3. Claim: SFI is backed by rigorous, third party audits.
    Truth: The report counters that SFI’s audits are “dangerously relaxed.” The report uses the example that two SFI-accredited auditors spent “just five days single-handedly assessing more than 46,875 square miles of public forest — an area larger than the entire state of Pennsylvania.”

  5. Claim: Through SFI certification, a company can accurately identify how much certified, responsible sourcing and/or recycled content is in a product.
    Truth:The SFI label that consumers usually see is SFI’s Fiber Sourcing label, which does not require any chain-of-custody tracking of its content or origins.

  7. Claim: The Sustainable Forestry Initiative practices sustainable forestry.
    Truth:The report states that SFI-certified logging practices are “having a disastrous impact on North American forests.” The report cites the example that in 2007, heavy rainfall across Washington State caused at least 1,273 documented landslides, 84 percent of which occurred on lands certified by SFI. Most of the landslides also oc­curred on lands managed by Weyerhaeuser. Remember that Weyerhaeuser’s president and CEO is on SFI’s board.
Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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