JUST GOOD BUSINESS BUZZ – SUSTAINABILITY : Do you have an orangutan-killer in the office?

Would you entrust your business’ precious reputation to your printer? What if they’re using paper from suppliers who are destroying native forests, wildlife habitats, killing orangutans and causing thousands of people to suffer?
So, right now, can you say exactly what sort of paper you are using?
If the use of palm oil can radically and almost overnight upset chocolate-buyers, what happens if your customers find chink in your supply chain?
Thousands of businesses are running this risk daily.
For example, do you know where your toilet paper’s coming from? Illegally or unsustainably logged forests offshore, or sustainable plantation forests?
Why are some toilet tissues making environmentally friendly claims on their labels – without the evidence legally required to back those up?
Do you know where that so-called “safety” glass came from for your home or apartment balcony? Is it really safe? Is the compliance certificate it carries fake?
The Commerce Commission can investigate “green wash” complaints. However we have yet to see many investigations.
When will you really care? Before or after the moment the glass shatters and injures or kills? And the major investment you’ve made in building your reputation, brand, staff, building and customer base is shattered with it?
Will you care when the market finds out about you – and shifts to more authentic product?
Because extensive research in New Zealand shows third of the market will move when they find out about you: either to or from you.
Most New Zealanders want businesses to do the right thing, by them, their environment and society. More than seven out of 10 want you to strike the right balance between making returns for shareholders (that’s essential) – and looking after our quality of life.
Yet most also cannot name stand-out brand which does this.
They will most trust their personal experience with brand, and information they receive about it from the brand (though not through its advertising).
So the key challenge – and major benefits – will come to your business when it secures its supply chain, can prove it is doing no harm (and in fact may be doing extra good) – and people find out about it.
Two years ago it was impossible for most printers and graphic designers to easily research and choose sustainably produced office papers, with authentic certification.
The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development commissioned the first “Which Paper?” guide – and mailed it to 4000 printers and graphic designers nationwide. They were extremely grateful.
One of the country’s major office paper suppliers reported its sustainable paper inventories rose from 10 percent to 41 percent. Now they’re at more than 70 percent.
And Spicers Paper has decided not to buy from Indonesian paper maker APP.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, APP is one of the world’s largest vertically integrated pulp and paper companies. It operates mills in China as well as Indonesia.
It is responsible for more deforestation in Sumatra than any other company. Since its operations began in the 1990s it is estimated to have cleared one million hectares of natural forests in Indonesia’s Riau and Jambi Province.
APP has repeatedly failed to apply high conservation values within its logging areas and WWF has ended its years-long efforts to help the firm.
Other companies that have ended their relationships with APP in Indonesia include Woolworths, Fuji Xerox, Corporate Express and Office Depot.
Blue Star Group, the major printers, won’t supply anything in New Zealand other than certified stock.
So do you have native forest-killing, poor quality glass-provider, or green wash toilet paper-labelling supplier threatening your business?
It might be time to ask. Before your customers do…
Oh, and where did the paper for this article come from?

Editor’s Note: NZ Management magazine is printed on Spicers’ 9 Lives paper, made of 55 percent recycled fibre, with an environmental certification of 5, the maximum performance. Plus, for every tonne of paper sold, Spicers Paper donates $20 to WWF-New Zealand projects that help protect our environment.

Peter Neilson is chief executive of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development.

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