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Recycled paper and green office supply with Green Stationery

Roberto RINALDI's picture

Buying green office products does not mean a compromise on the price and quality of your stationery service. The Green Stationery Company is now in its 18th year of operation and we supply over 2,000 small, medium and large organisations with all their office needs. You are not recycling unless you are buying recycled products, help close the recycling loop.

The Green Stationery company was formed to encourage businesses to use recycled and green products when making purchasing decisions. Businesses have massive purchasing power and can influence the overall behaviour of their supply chains. Most businesses have offices that consume billions of Euros of office products every year. Most of these products are purchased with price as the only factor influencing where they are sourced. The result is that most office supplies are short life disposable products produced in poor social and environmental conditions.

The Green Stationery company was formed to encourage businesses to use recycled and green products when making purchasing decisions. Businesses have massive purchasing power and can influence the overall behaviour of their supply chains. Most businesses have offices that consume billions of Euros of office products every year. Most of these products are purchased with price as the only factor influencing where they are sourced. The result is that most office supplies are short life disposable products produced in poor social and environmental conditions.

Aim

We aim to maintain sustainable business practices within a culture that respects all life and honours its independence, and to ease our customers' path to a modern, low-impact office.

General information on the green solution

We have a unique range of products with many new Green products are showcased by manufacturers in our green catalogue before they become available to the normal office supply companies. We also manufacture ourselves and import unusual or innovative Green products from like minded companies outside the UK. The Green Stationery company aims to encourage business to consider the waste and energy impacts of their purchasing decisions and to create a more sustainable business through better management of their supply chains. One of the most important changes required is a move to better quality long life products which may have a higher price but result in a lower business cost and lower impact on the environment.

Detailed description of the green solution

Our Green Catalogue contains stationery and office products that have been selected because they have an environmental benefit over the standard products most commonly used in offices. By purchasing these products you are helping to improve the environmental performance of the whole office supplies chain.

 

For example, a lot of products made from degradable and starch based plastics. These products are made to last and are often manufactured in excellent environmental and working conditions. The Green Stationery company now has a unique 'Product For Life' symbol to identify those stationery items that have lifetime guarantees and are made in good working and environmental conditions.

 

Non-toxic and palm oil

We select products that produce less chemical pollution in their production or release less toxins in their use. So we try to avoid PVC, which harms the ozone layer and prefer polypropylene, which only produces CO2 and water when it is produced or burnt. We select office cleaners and chemical based products that are solvent-free and have benign ingredients. One issue that is becoming very important is the use of palm oil. The destruction of the Rainforest in the far east because of the demand for palm oil plantations seriously threatens the habitats of amazing creatures like the orang-utan.

We are therefore raising the question about palm oil content with all our suppliers, although getting the answers can be difficult, as the manufacturers often do not have this information readily available.

 

Recycled content

A large proportion of our Green items have a recycled content because there is still a pressing need for more recycled products to be purchased. While the collection of recycled materials has improved dramatically over the last 20 years the amount of recycled products being purchased has not increased so dramatically. There is still a need to close the recycling loop, and using recycled paper and plastic for short life disposable office products is an excellent way to use recycled materials. The issues surrounding recycled paper are detailed below.

 

We have an extensive range of papers made from unusual fibres, including recycled brown kraft, coloured, textured, and watermarked papers. We supply long life products built to last and beautiful sustainable wood office accessories. We also have unique biodegradable packaging and everything for the eco office from recycled string to glue sticks made from almonds and potato starch. Our customers include big organisations wanting to run a green conference, small pioneering green businesses, eco conscious home users, natural wedding planners and green pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels. We have over two thousand regular customers throughout the UK and some overseas, who all want to use their purchasing power to make a difference.

 

We use only reclaimed packaging materials to protect our customer's orders, and these are sourced from local businesses along Walcot Street. The only energy used in the office is renewably-sourced electricity and we produce minimal waste (only one black bin bag every two weeks), with all other materials being re-used. The diesel used by our couriers can be offset by our customers through Rainforest Concern's 'Forest Credits' scheme - community-owned watershed projects based in Intag, Ecuador, which provides both clean water to the indigenous peoples there, and reforests the Amazon rainforest. We also have an electric assisted peddle bike for small local deliveries.

 

Effects/Results

There are five Reasons to Use Green Office Products:

i. Purchasing green office supplies helps reduce the impact of your business on the environment. Green purchasing reduces overall resource consumption and waste pollutants.

ii. Green office products are economical. Many standard stationery items are commodities sold purely on price, they are often disposable and have short lives. Green products tend to have long lives and are re-usable, thereby offering good cost savings to businesses. Some green items like laser cartridges also offer direct price advantages because they use recycled components.

iii. Using green products creates a positive staff culture from a sense that employers are caring and have long term goals. Very often the introduction of recycled papers into an office has the effect of reducing the amount of paper consumed as staff take greater care to save paper. This caring attitude is also communicated to customers and can have a positive impact on gaining new business.

iv. Environmental issues are increasingly perceived as central to total quality management.

vi. The Green supplies industry is currently very embryonic and purchasing from green companies helps to support these new industries. Without the support of committed customers these new industries can not create the markets that will allow the development of alternative products and services. This support includes purchasing non green items (where a green alternative product does not exist) from suppliers who have an advanced environmental policy.

 

Enablers

Our original customers were dedicated green companies and organisations who were taking a lead in making their supply chains more sustainable. These included commercial organisations like Triodos Bank and campaigning organisations like Forum for the Future. Our customer base has now broadened to more mainstream companies that are looking at their environmental impact from the CSR perspective, Skanska construction is one of these companies now using our service. Funding has always come from profits generated in the business. Suppliers are often EU based manufacturers that produce high quality products in facilities with good working conditions and low environmental impacts. Balma and Capidura in Vogherra near Turin, Italy is one of these companies that supplies us with products.

Barriers/challenges and Lessons learnt

We initially tried to market our products to all businesses but we found that if the business had not already decided to lower its environmental impact, it was almost impossible to make them follow this path. We now only market our products to businesses who have publically made a commitment to becoming sustainable. We also found that there were not many office products available with a low environmental impact and this has taken years to develop a good range of products. Over the last 25 years there has been a shift in the manufacture of office products to the Far East and this has resulted in cheaper, shorter life products becoming even more prevalent in our industry. So our business has been moving completely against the current direction of manufacture and supply in our sector.

Further details

How was the green solution financed?: 
Would you characterize the green solution as: 
Medium to low capital intensive investment (i.e. €3,000 -€10,000)
Operating and maintenance costs: 
Yes, low O&M costs