At Staples, our vision is to generate business and environmental benefits — for ourselves, our customers and our communities — by leading the way in sustainable business practices.
We’re working to achieve this vision through a continued focus on sourcing more sustainable products; improving our offering of recycling and other green services; maximizing our energy efficiency and renewable energy use; and eliminating waste.
Over the course of 2010, we worked hard to develop and begin the implementation of a new overarching sustainability strategy, which we unveiled in 2011. This strategy focuses on the ways we can have the greatest beneficial impact on the environment while also meeting the needs of our customers and our business.
Five pillars constitute the foundation of Staples’ sustainability program:
We set a series of global and U.S.-specific goals to measure our progress in these areas, and track our progress against these goals. Our goals and progress to date are presented in this section, and we have also included a summary of our targets in the Goals section of this site.
Our sustainability efforts are managed by the Vice President of Environmental Affairs, who oversees the sustainability program. This executive reports to the Staples Chief Culture Officer who reports to the CEO.
The Vice President of Environmental Affairs has global responsibility for sustainability and provides periodic updates on environmental performance to the Board of Directors. The Environmental Affairs department collaborates with other associates in the U.S. and internationally, including, but not limited to, associates in real estate and construction, energy management, merchandising, Staples® brand group, supply chain, marketing, and internationally-based corporate responsibility colleagues.
Staples has a large global and interdependent supply chain that represents a large portion of the environmental impacts associated with the products we sell. Due to an increased focus on identifying the environmental risks and opportunities in our supply chain, the Environmental department continues to engage closely with our Supplier Collaboration department. This team, led by the Vice President for Transportation and Supplier Collaboration and consisting of Lean Six Sigma Black Belts and a Packaging Engineer, is responsible for implementing Staples’ supplier sustainability partnerships and innovations in product packaging, manufacturing and distribution.
We recognize the value to our business of an environmental management system and have obtained ISO14001 certification in many locations throughout Staples International. This provides a system for us to observe, control and improve our environmental performance, not only helping us to comply with relevant legislation, but also helping us to improve our performance through pollution prevention and resource conservation. Our international operations have been working hard to obtain ISO 14001 certification, with more than 110 active sites in 2011. Facilities across Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the UK have passed the stringent criteria for this independent, internationally standardized and recognized certification in environmental management.
“We’ll also remain committed to our sustainability strategy. We’re proud of our ability to have a beneficial impact on the environment while meeting the needs of our customers. Our priorities include selling more sustainable products and services, offering easy recycling solutions, eliminating operational waste, maximizing energy efficiency, and becoming a sustainability leader in the global community.”
Ron Sargent, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
Staples 2011 Annual Report,
To ensure that our associates continue to learn more about what Staples is doing to increase our sustainability, and how they can personally contribute to these efforts, we are utilizing a wide range of internal communication vehicles to engage, educate and inform associates globally. These include the use of our intranet, quarterly management forums, special events and various internal newsletters, among other modes of communication. These ongoing communications build understanding throughout the Staples organization and increase our capabilities as a sustainability leader.
Our GreenXpress program in Australia is our internal staff program which encourages associates to be environmentally responsible. The program, which covers issues such as waste, energy and water, is managed by the GreenXpress Committee, which is made up of volunteers from different parts of the business. To date the program has focused on a variety of initiatives, including developing the Committee’s knowledge and understanding of sustainability issues by conducting information sessions with environmental expert guest speakers; launching the GreenSkills Program to meet the training requirements of our Environmental Management System; and introducing environmental performance indicators into the targets of relevant team members. In 2011, we implemented an Associate Environmental Initiative Recognition Program, which rewarded associates for coming up with innovative, cost-effective and practical environmental initiatives that make a difference to the workplace. Some of the winning entries included:
Since our last report, we have collected international data to report global figures for the 2010 baseline we are using for several of our environmental performance goals (previously, we had solely reported our United States data). These global figures include data from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Our ability to measure, collect and report on environmental impacts from across our operations continues to improve, however in selected cases, we have used FY 2011 data points to backfill FY 2010 data gaps (though these adjustments represent a small portion of our overall global impact).
|Sell more sustainable products and services||Offer our customers only sustainable product and service choices.||Continue to improve sourcing, identification, and promotion of greener products to customers||In 2011, Staples had $2.5 billion in sales of products meeting our eco-conscious criteria, or 13% of sales across business operations who can report on this metric. Our eco-conscious product criteria vary by market, but are typically characterized by 30% or more recycled content materials and/or meeting specific third-party environmental standards.|
|Reduce the use of packaging materials in the United States by 20 percent by 2020 from a 2011 baseline.||
We are still working to baseline our supplier-produced product packaging data (sell unit and transport), but anticipate being able to report a 2011 baseline in 2013.
We can report on outbound packaging materials (cardboard and dunnage) used by Staples to ship packages to our customers. In 2011, we used an estimated 40.5 million pounds of cardboard, 210,000 pounds of Tyvek envelopes, and1.6 million pounds of plastic air pillows.
|Offer easy customer recycling solutions||Recycle the equivalent of 100 percent of the technology products we offer.||By 2020, recycle 100 million ink and toner cartridges each year across all operations.||Globally, we collected more than 71.5 million cartridges in 2011.|
|By 2020, recycle 40 million pounds of e-waste each year globally.||Globally, we collected more than 21.5 million pounds of e-waste in 2011.|
|Eliminate operational waste||Achieve zero waste in our operations and help our customers to minimize their operational waste.||Reduce waste to landfill by 25 percent globally by 2020 with 2010 as a baseline.||Globally our waste to landfill decreased 9% from 2010 to 2011 (from 37,800 short tons 34,100 short tons).|
|Maximize energy efficiency and renewable energy||Achieve zero carbon emissions in our operations and help our customers pursue the same goal.||Improve Staples' U.S. fleet fuel economy from a 2010 baseline by 15 percent by 2015.||In 2011, the fuel economy increased slightly to 10.04 miles per gallon (from 10.01 miles per gallon) due to the decrease in diesel fuel used upon the introduction of our all-electric trucks.|
|Reduce the electrical intensity of our global operations by 25 percent by 2020 from a 2010 baseline.||Globally, our electrical intensity decreased about 3% from 2010 to 2011 (from 11.5 kWh per ft2 to 11.2 kWh per ft2).|
|Ensure that 50 percent of our active locations in the United States achieve ENERGY STAR® certification by 2020.||At the end of 2011, 16% (286) of our active U.S. facilities were designated as ENERGY STAR® certified. As of December 2012, 28% (501) were certified.|
|Reduce global carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2020 from a 2010 baseline.||Globally, our global carbon emissions (before offsets) decreased 6.7% from 2010 to 2011 (from 553,000 MtCO2e to 516,000 MtCO2e). After accounting for offsets, our emissions decreased 55.6% (from 412,000 MtCO2e in 2010 to 183,000 MtCO2e) after offsets. At this time we are exceeding our goal to reduce emissions (after offsets) by 50%, in large part due to our renewable energy certificate (REC) purchases.|
Sustainable Products and Services
Staples seeks to make it easy for our customers to purchase more sustainable products and services that will reduce our collective impacts on the environment and society. To help pursue this objective, we collaborate with our suppliers and other stakeholders to reduce packaging and improve its environmental performance, identify and offer a broad assortment of greener products, develop tools and resources to guide our customers to find and choose greener products, and launch recycling and other services that meet the needs of our customers while reducing environmental burdens. Ultimately, the measure of success is how we’re able to progress against our goals related to packaging reduction, green product sales, and recycling and other services.
Offer our customers only sustainable choices by building sustainability into all of our products and services.
Excessive and unsustainable packaging drives up costs, wastes resources and burdens our customers with packaging waste that they then must either recycle or throw away. By reducing packaging volume and using more environmentally sensitive packaging materials, we’re asking our suppliers to help us ease the burdens that we collectively place on our customers and the environment.
Since we launched this initiative more than 2 years ago, Staples has identified more than 200 packaging project opportunities and has prioritized and pursued the highest opportunity and quick-win projects with Staples’ key suppliers. Thus far, our sustainable packaging team has completed multiple projects in high impact categories such as paper and technology. Paper projects have included material reductions on master cartons in paper, ink reductions on both master carton and ream wrap paper, and a move from poly ream wraps to paper ream wraps. Other completed projects include an “open box” program to reduce returns and master carton and shipping configuration changes that have increased transportation efficiencies and reduced our environmental impact.
Our biggest challenges to date in making more progress on product packaging include:
In addition to continued project work on specific packaging opportunities, we are working to launch several broader packaging initiatives over the next year, including integrating more sustainable designs into repackaging of Staples Brand products in a variety of categories, the development and release of a new packaging policy, and launching a new web-based packaging scorecard that will measure current supplier packaging impact and performance and track packaging improvements over time.
Along with our efforts to reduce and improve packaging around products, we have developed new processes and systems to ensure that our shipments to customers are engineered to minimize packaging.
In 2011, we used an estimated 40.5 million pounds of cardboard, 1.6 million pounds of plastic air pillows, and 210,000 pounds of Tyvek envelopes to ship products from our facilities to our customers using our delivery fleet. Recognizing that cardboard use in our outbound packaging was a significant impact, we successfully piloted new technology that essentially custom builds a box based on the contents of each customer’s order to largely eliminate the excess space in our delivery boxes. We have started rolling out this technology to all of our delivery distribution facilities, with 50 percent of facilities complete by the end of 2012 and the remainder scheduled to be transitioned by the end of 2013. We expect that this new technology will reduce cardboard use by nearly 20% and dunnage use by about 60% across our entire network.
Staples is implementing packaging reduction initiatives in several of the European countries where we do business.
In 2011, the Small Order Reduction Initiative was introduced in Europe. Small orders increase both Staples’ and our customers’ environmental impact by increasing the amount of packaging we use and the number of deliveries that are made. To support this initiative, we use a Small Order Calculator, which allows us to work together with our customers to reduce the number of orders below €50 by looking at savings and benefits due to consolidating multiple small orders into one, less frequent order. To date, this new approach has been implemented in Sweden, France, Poland, the UK, and Germany. In Poland and Germany the initiative will be aligned with a tree planting scheme, whereby donations are made by Staples to a domestic tree planting charity on behalf of our customers, representing a proportion of the customer sales.
We have also invested in Jivaro technology in the Netherlands, the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Sweden and Spain, with 12 machines active across Europe. This technology adapts the height of the box to the contents inside before sealing the box, with the end result being a compact box that doesn’t take up any more space than is strictly necessary. Typically, there is a 30% reduction in shipping volumes, which translates into fewer vehicles required to move the product to customers.
In our Staples Advantage UK operations, we are implementing several approaches to reduce the environmental impacts of our packaging. As an example, biodegradable plastic bags are used for packing single items. In addition, when we install furniture ordered from our primary suppliers, all of the packaging is backhauled to the supplier, where it is then recycled. Furthermore, we are also a member of Valpak, the UK’s leading provider of packaging compliance, which assists us in ensuring our legal compliance under relevant packaging regulations.
In our stores and online, Staples offers our customers more than 10,000 products with environmental features. This includes everything from attributes common in the industry like refillable pens and pencils and non-toxic certified markers to products with 100% post-consumer recycled content and those that meet stringent environmental standards like Energy Star, Green Seal, and the Forest Stewardship Council. In 2011, our sales of products with any environmental features we track in the U.S. were $3 billion.
While we’re glad to be able to offer this assortment of products today, we believe that our business and our customers need more visibility into what features, certifications, and/or supplier performance metrics drive the greatest environmental improvements in different product categories. Gaining clarity on these will allow us to make more sustainable purchasing decisions as a retailer and help us guide our customers to make it easy for them to make truly greener choices.
We are approaching this in a few different ways. Our initial focus has been to leverage existing certifications and features like recycled content to identify and track products that we believe lead to improved environmental performance compared to “industry average”. We recently initiated changes to our filtering logic on staples.com to enable customers to choose these products by selecting “eco-conscious” as they are shopping. This filter also allows customers to filter by recycled content, certifications, or other environmental designs. Sales of products meeting what we believe are more stringent environmental features totaled $1.9 billion in the U.S. in 2011. Globally, these sales totaled $2.5 billion, or 13% of sales across business operations who can report on this metric. Our eco-conscious product criteria vary by market, but are typically characterized by 30% or more recycled content materials and/or meeting specific third-party environmental standards.
In addition to improving the shopping experience on Staples.com, we also make it easy for our Staples Advantage customers globally to find greener products by using tools like special catalogs highlighting greener products, way finding tools, and icons. For example, Staples Advantage Canada customers can browse our online Green Guide to browse a wide selection of greener products; they can also use the “Eco-friendly products” filter on our customer ordering site.
In the coming years, we plan to collaborate with our suppliers and existing multi-stakeholder groups to create and implement more holistic scorecards and metrics for measuring product sustainability. We’ll use these scorecards to measure our success in offering and selling more sustainable products across key product categories over time, aligning with multi-stakeholder efforts where feasible. Our intention is to focus on “what matters most” within specific product categories. This means taking a holistic approach to identify and focus on reducing the greatest environmental impacts of the product across its life cycle, from raw materials extraction and manufacturing to use and end of life.
We are committed to working through the challenges of developing a more sustainable product assortment for Staples customers, including:
Our Sustainable Paper Procurement Policy forms the foundation of our commitment to ensuring that the paper products we sell are sourced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner and defines our expectations for suppliers of paper-based products. The policy focuses on four key areas:
Several collaborations are helping us make progress across these focus areas.
Through our participation in Rainforest Alliance’s SmartSource program, we supported the development of a Web-based sustainability sourcing evaluation tool for wood and paper products. The SmartSource 360 tool enables large paper and/or wood product buyers like Staples to trace the origins of these products through the supply chain to evaluate whether responsible sourcing practices have been used, with validation support provided by Rainforest Alliance staff. The SmartSource 360 initial version was completed and piloted at Staples in late 2011. Staples is currently rolling out SmartSource 360 to key suppliers in a prioritized fashion and taking action based on what we learn.
Since late 2009, Staples has helped lead a multi-stakeholder effort called the Carbon Canopy in collaboration with the Dogwood Alliance. This effort engages other conservation groups, wood products companies and landowners to protect forests, combat climate change and help develop sources of FSC-certified paper and wood products. The goal is to create financial incentives for private landowners to increase forest conservation and restoration efforts and work toward FSC certification, thereby producing a stable supply of FSC certified wood to forest product manufacturers and increasing the available supply of FSC certified wood and paper products in the U.S. marketplace.
In 2012, two of the Carbon Canopy’s three current pilot projects were moving towards completion, and the group aims to add multiple and diverse demonstration projects in the next few years to continue gleaning best practices and processes for expanding the volume of certified forests. Carbon Canopy members have also held meetings with carbon market specialists to evaluate opportunities to make an initial sale of carbon credits, to be traded in spring 2013. Over the next 20 years, the Carbon Canopy aims to catalyze the sustainable stewardship of an additional 20 percent of southern forests.
In 2011, we became a founding member of the Forest Products Working Group (FPWG), a project of the non-profit GreenBlue. This group, comprised of paper manufacturers, large paper buyers and resellers, printers, and others is focused on developing innovative and sustainable solutions to support thriving forests and the forest products industry. One of the early focus areas of the FPWG will be on identifying and seeking to accelerate innovative models for increasing the amount of certified forests in the U.S. Future project work will likely focus on helping define the group’s view of the appropriate use of recycled content across various grades of paper.
Staples also participates in WRI’s Forest Legality Alliance, an initiative aimed at eliminating illegal timber from entering global supply chains as well as the Boreal Business Forum, a group of businesses overseeing the implementation of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, the world’s largest consortium agreement, covering over 76 million hectares of Canadian boreal forest.
We will continue to work closely with stakeholders and our suppliers to ensure they are taking action to improve their forest-management practices, protect endangered and high conservationÐvalue forests, and develop more sustainable products.
With their EasyTree program, Staples Advantage Germany is supporting the United Nations Environmental Program’s (UNEP) Billion Tree Campaign for the sustainable development of forests. In 2011, The Year of Forests, Staples Advantage Germany set a target of planting at least 10 acres of trees in Germany. As part of the EasyTree campaign, Staples, together with select suppliers, donated 1.5 percent of sales from EasyTree products to the Society for Protection of German Forests (SDW). In 2011, 33,000 trees were planted across 11 sites in Germany, with an estimated value of €115,000.
Staples China has embarked on a tree planting program in association with Shanghai Roots and Shoots project and The Earth Day Network. In 2011, the program donated 48 trees to help prevent desertification, based upon the purchase of Staples products by customers; the trees went to a much needed project in Kulun Qi, a desert area of Inner Mongolia.
Staples recognizes that chemicals are a key element of the global economy. The introduction of new chemicals over the past few decades has provided significant value to product designers and can improve the quality, efficiency and convenience of products in our workplaces, homes and communities. At the same time, Staples recognizes that not all chemicals and products are created equal when it comes to their potentially adverse effects on human health and the environment.
As a result, Staples is committed to offering safer and more sustainable products to help maintain a clean, safe and healthy workplace and environment. We are accomplishing this in several ways:
Safer and more sustainable products means reduced risk, global compliance and meeting or adapting to the trends, needs and demands of downstream users. Everybody wins with safer products; the company and worker that makes them, the retailer that sells them, the consumer that uses them and the environment that inherits them.
We are also making it easy for Staples customers to make more sustainable copies. Since March 2008, Staples® Copy & Print Centers have used 50 percent post-consumer recycled FSC-certified paper as the standard offering for high-speed black & white copying. In 2011, 62 percent of copies in the US were produced on paper that was Forest Stewardship Council certified and 25percent were made on paper with recycled content.
Recycling Solutions for Customers
Staples offers a variety of free recycling solutions for our customers, including office technology like monitors, computers, and printers, ink and toner cartridges, and rechargeable batteries.
Recycling programs are a win-win-win for our customers, the environment and Staples. Our customers enjoy a convenient and free or low-cost opportunity to responsibly dispose of used technology products; the refurbishing or recycling of products helps reduce the burdens of mining and prevents landfill waste; and, as a company, we build customer loyalty.
Recycle the equivalent of 100 percent of the technology products we sell.
Staples was the first retailer to offer a national electronics recycling program in late 2007. In March of 2011 we evolved this service to make electronics recycling at Staples completely free. Customers can bring in up to six office technology items per day thanks to a new collaboration with HP and our recycler Electronics Recyclers International (ERI). More details about the office technology products we accept are available on our Easy on the Planet site.
To ensure that the electronic products Staples collects from customers are responsibly recycled, we are only working with certified recyclers. ERI is certified both to the e-Stewards Recyclers Program standard and the R2 standard. Both standards seek to ensure that facilities responsibly handle and recycle eWaste. Vendors working with Staples have also certified their facilities to the ISO 14001 environmental management standard.
Staples continues to offer promotional events focused on technology products like mobile phones, printers, and shredders that encourage customers to bring in an old product to be recycled at no charge while earning a coupon toward the purchase of a qualifying new product. We’ve found that these events drive recycling volumes and sales of new products.
Staples encourages our customers to take advantage of our ink and toner recycling services and help protect the environment. In addition to reducing waste going to landfills and reusing valuable resources, our retail customers in the United States receive $2 back in Staples Rewards® for any brand of ink or toner cartridge they return to our stores, up to 10 cartridges per customer each month.
Ink and toner recycling is also available to our Staples Advantage® customers. The program allows our drivers to pick up ink and toner cartridges for recycling directly from customers when delivering their office supplies.
Staples Canada continues to offer its Retail and Delivery customers more recycling services. In 2012, we launched a pilot program in select locations to make electronics, battery and ink and toner cartridge recycling available to our Delivery customers, whereby they can give these items to their delivery driver for recycling. Our battery and cell phone collection program far surpassed our goals for 2011, with more than 24,000 kg of batteries (goal: 15,000 kg) and nearly 800 kg of cell phones (goal: 410 kg) collected from customers. We set even higher goals for 2012 and are well on our way to meeting those. As of April 2012, we had collected more than 9.87 million ink and toner cartridges, putting us very close to our goal of recycling 10 million cartridges by Earth Day 2012.
Eliminating Operational Waste
Our commitment to reduce waste generation and increase waste diversion applies both to our own operations and to helping our customers do the same. We have programs in place in our stores, distribution centers, and offices to recycle materials such as cardboard, mixed paper, shrink wrap, and pallets, among other things. We also actively seek out new methods for attaining our waste reduction goals. For example, in 2011 we completed the first year of a composting program in our Home Office in the US, whereby we collected more than 126,000 pounds of food waste and compostable kitchen ware for recycling.
This year, we saw a decrease in our waste generation, reflecting our ongoing efforts to reduce the amount of waste generated at our facilities. The percentage of waste that goes to landfill compared to incinerator is approximately the same as in earlier years.
To help understand and reduce waste generation, we launched a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt project in late 2009 to evaluate all sources of waste at our U.S. retail stores. After identifying several waste diversion and minimization opportunities and best practices, we started rolling out the program in a phased approach starting in 2010. In most cases participating stores have been able to reduce the frequency of waste pickup by half and, in many cases recycling volumes have increased as a result. To date, the project has been rolled out to approximately 400 locations, or 25 percent of the retail chain.
In our North American Delivery (NAD) distribution facilities, we’ve continued to focus on waste reduction and diversion in our operations. In 2011, Staples invested in several projects to improve the performance of our recycling programs. Projects such as the reallocation of recycling equipment between facilities and materials, and improvements in the efficiency in recycling diversion processes, have allowed Staples to continue to increase recycling participation and volumes at our NAD facilities. For example:
We continue to track our progress against the compactor capacity utilization targets and waste diversion metrics we established for our fulfillment centers, and provide monthly reporting to help the fulfillment centers manage their waste and recycling programs. We continue to see improved capacity utilization with 80 percent of our locations achieving 75 percent of their targeted tonnage, and will continue to work with underperforming locations to improve their results.
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
The Staples energy management program is a comprehensive organization of programs, projects, technologies, and resources. We focus on energy reduction and conservation in our buildings and fleet, employing renewable energy resources, and reducing our carbon impact. We emphasize education and communication about our initiatives, and engage our associates and external stakeholders in our programs.
Staples has been an ENERGY STAR® partner since 1999. A joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy, ENERGY STAR helps companies like Staples save money while protecting the environment through the use of energy-efficient products and practices.
EPA’s ENERGY STAR partnership program offers companies a proven energy management strategy that helps in measuring current energy performance, setting goals, tracking savings and rewarding improvements. The EPA provides an innovative energy performance rating system that has been used with more than 270,000 buildings across the country.
Working in partnership with ENERGY STAR, Staples continues to make substantial progress toward sustainability.
Another focus of Staples’ energy management effort is our commitment to continuously reduce energy consumption. We anchor these efforts in our KWh Reduction Initiative, which incorporates energy waste elimination, energy awareness training, energy usage metrics, outlier identification and store recommissioning as fundamentals of superior energy management.
Under the initiative:
Staples has developed a culture that encourages the discovery of new energy savings opportunities. In 2011, Staples rolled-out the “Energy Reduction Treasure Hunt” process, which identified energy reduction opportunities that will save over 30 percent in energy costs. Many of these improvements have already been implemented.
The treasure hunt program is designed to help Staples identify ways to save energy, improve processes, and seek ways of applying new technologies. The 3-day treasure hunt process focuses on lighting, battery chargers, conveyors, HVAC, and the energy management system. It also incorporates employee engagement elements, such as an energy savings ideas contest, the use of posters to educate associates about the treasure hunt, and a rally with the associates and the energy team.
Following our first successful treasure hunt at a fulfillment center in Orlando, FL—which has resulted in a 19 percent reduction in energy use to date—the energy team has completed treasure hunts at four additional facilities. These hunts have identified potential savings in excess of 20 percent, with implementation of improvements already under way.
Our goal is to reduce the electrical intensity of our global operations by 25 percent by 2020 from a 2010 baseline, which Staples is pursuing through a proven record of energy-saving strategies executed over consecutive years. Staples’ energy management program has reduced the electricity intensity (kWh per ft2) of our US operations by more than 15.4 percent between 2001 and 2011, saving the company more than $10 million in 2011.
Staples Canada employs several methods to reduce energy consumption in its stores. We employ Energy Management Systems in more than 280 stores, allowing us to centralize control of lighting and temperature set points. In June and July of each year, we run a “Lights Out” program to reduce nonessential lighting during daylight hours, with more than 205 store locations participating in 2011 and 2012. We are also converting stores from HID lighting to fluorescent lighting, and re-lamping stores with more efficient bulbs. In 2011, Staples Canada stores reduced their consumption of electricity by 11.6 percent and natural gas by 19 percent over 2010 consumption. In 2013, Staples will install solar panels at four Ontario locations.
The LEED® green building certification program promotes sustainable building and development practices though a rating system for building projects that implement strategies for better environmental and health performance. Staples was one of the first companies in the retail industry to participate in the LEED program. To date, we have seven facilities with the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification.
Lighting has a substantial impact on the environment, accounting for up to 40 percent of electricity used in non-residential buildings. Staples Belgium achieved the prestigious ‘GreenLight’, a certificate for the use of energy efficient lighting in public buildings and businesses, promoted by the European Commission.
GreenLight is a voluntary European program whereby private and public organizations commit to upgrading their existing lighting and to designing new installations, adopting energy-efficient lighting measures when the cost of these measures is repaid by the associated savings and lighting quality is maintained or improved.
Staples spearheads many educational and community initiatives to inspire its employees and the members of the wider community to “think green” about saving energy, and develops communication materials to educate our associates about our work and how they can be involved. For example, in 2011, we:
Staples uses a multipronged approach to ensure that the company is using energy as efficiently as possible. We also explore opportunities to take advantage of technologies that can reduce our environmental footprint. For example, we continuously evaluate the effectiveness of and adopt those processes and technologies that can lessen our dependence on fossil fuels
While Staples’ energy reduction efforts are contributing substantially to reducing the company’s carbon footprint, we’re shrinking that footprint even further by increasing the proportion of renewable energy we produce and purchase – producing our own solar power, using fuel cell technology, and participating in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership. As of October 2012, Staples was ranked seventh on the EPA’s Green Power Partnership Fortune 500 list of leading renewable energy purchasing companies and fourth among retailers.
Currently, Staples has 33 facilities hosting a total of 36 solar arrays in the United States. Recently, we added a 2.2 MW rooftop array on our London, OH facility, which will generate just over half of the facility’s annual energy needs, as well as a 700 kW array on the top level of a newly constructed parking garage at the Staples corporate headquarters facility in Framingham, MA. Nearly 11 MW of solar installations have generated more than 42 million kWh of clean energy for Staples facilities.
In addition to our aggressive application of solar power, Staples also uses fuel cell technology, of which we were an early adopter. We operate a 385 kW fuel cell that supplies an average of 90 percent of the base building electrical requirements for our 330,000-square-foot distribution center in Ontario, CA, and recently completed the installation of a fuel cell at our 740,000-square-foot distribution center in Rialto, CA that will provide 6.5 GWh of electricity. The fuel cells in both locations are complemented by solar installations.
In 2011, Staples purchased 341 million kWh of green power in the U.S., primarily in the form of renewable energy certificates, equivalent to an estimated 50 percent of our 2011 total national electricity use. This quantity of green power helped offset more than 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of more than 29,000 average U.S. homes. In 2012, we increased our green power purchase further by committing to purchase 514,133 MWh, equivalent to approximately 75 percent of our 2012 electricity use in the U.S.
In recent years, Staples has worked diligently to reduce our operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions footprint through our energy reduction and efficiency programs and our green power purchases.
Our current goal is to reduce absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally by 50 percent by 2020, using 2010 as a baseline. Globally, our global carbon emissions (before offsets) decreased 6.7 percent from 2010 to 2011 (from 553,000 MtCO2e to 516,000 MtCO2e). After accounting for offsets, our emissions decreased 55.6 percent (from 412,000 MtCO2e in 2010 to 183,000 MtCO2e after offsets.
In 2011, we purchased 341 million kWh of green power in the U.S., primarily in the form of renewable energy certificates (RECs), the equivalent of more than 50 percent of our national electricity usage (in 2010, we purchased the equivalent of 25 percent). Due to the region in the country where our purchased RECs are generated, and the associated emission factors for RECs in those areas (i.e., higher emission factors because electricity production is more polluting in these regions), the resulting carbon offsets are equivalent to a significant portion of our overall carbon footprint.
As a result, we are demonstrating a sizeable decrease in net carbon emissions (after offsets) from the previous year and are exceeding our goal to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent. However, we still expect to continue focusing on energy efficiency improvements as an important means to reduce our carbon footprint.
Due to our decrease in absolute emissions, we are also demonstrating a decrease in our greenhouse gas intensity.
For more information about our efforts to reduce GHG emissions, please read Staples’ 2011 response to the Climate Disclosure Project.
Staples Australia has been implementing Green IT initiatives over the past seven years. Example initiatives in 2011 included:
We electronically limit the top speed of our U.S. delivery fleet trucks to 60 miles per hour and employ idle management technologies to shut off engines after three minutes of idle time. These and other initiatives have improved fleet fuel economy 18 percent since 2006. In 2011, the fuel economy increased to 10.04 miles per gallon (from 10.01 in 2010). In 2011 we saved more than 620,000 gallons of diesel fuel in part due to the deployment of all-electric trucks in our fleet and reduced associated CO2 emissions by approximately 6,000 tons in the United States.
Staples has 53 electric delivery trucks making deliveries to our customers in several markets, including Ohio; California; Atlanta, Georgia; Texas; Portland, Oregon; and Kansas City, Missouri. Purchased in 2010, the trucks cost about $30,000 more than equivalent diesel-powered vehicles, but the extra expense will be quickly recovered; in fact, electric vehicles can provide greater savings to businesses than to consumers compared with diesel or gasoline models, in both fuel and maintenance costs. Staples was also awarded Federal Stimulus money through the Clean Cities Coalition, which covers 50 percent of the actual cost of alternatively powered vehicles.
Each of the electric delivery trucks runs a daily route of less than 70 miles before recharging at night. Per mile driven, our electric trucks produce approximately 50 percent fewer emissions than our diesel trucks when taking into account emissions generated from electricity used for vehicle charging.
Staples continues to evaluate additional fleet efficiency initiatives, including:
In 2011, Staples was recognized by the South Coast Air Quality Management District as a Clean Air Award Winner in the category of Advancement of Air Pollution Technology. Staples was also recognized as a Charter Partner of the US Department of Energy’s National Clean Fleets Partnership, part of the Clean Cities program.