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   Buyer's Guides
An Introduction to Bying Green
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Frequently Asked Questions
Blades of Grass
Frequently Asked Questions
Thank you for visiting the buygreen site of Office Depot, possibly the world's largest on-line store of environmentally preferable office products.

Office Depot knows that buying greener office products is one of the most tangible ways you show your commitment to the environment. In sharing this commitment with you, Office Depot is excited to be able to deliver this simple solution to help you "buy green."

If you represent an organization that can be considered part of an affiliated network, we may also be able to offer a link on your website so you can "sell green." This is through our online affiliate program that allows your organization to make money by linking to this site. To learn more about our affiliate program, please click here

You can find responses to frequently asked questions about our site by clicking the questions below.

  1. Does 'green' mean 'recycled' or does Office Depot offer more than just recycled products?
  2. How did Office Depot select products for the buygreen site?
  3. I really like the buygreen site and want to expose other people to it, how should I do that?
  4. What difference does it make if me or my company buys greener products - individual actions are insignificant, so why bother?
  5. What are the Office Depot standards for recycled content products in the buygreen site?
  6. Are all your products certified as "green" by independent third parties?
  7. How does Office Depot help customers decide between different green options?
  8. Are green products always more expensive than standard office products?
  9. Is it true that green products are poorer quality than standard office products?
  10. What is the difference between recycled, pre-consumer recycled and post consumer recycled content for paper?
  11. How do I choose between different recycled options for paper?
  12. Does Office Depot offer any environmental services (e.g. recycling)?
  13. Why should I recycle my ink and toner cartridges?
  14. What are the benefits of buying Office Depot remanufactured ink and toner cartridges?
  15. Does Office Depot use green office products in its own operations - what else does Office Depot do to "go green?"
  16. Can Office Depot suggest some websites that help me learn more about greening my worklife?
  17. I've found or purchased a product on the Office Depot green site that I don't think legitimately counts as "green" - what can I do?
  18. I have a suggestion for a great green office product that Office Depot should offer - what can I do?
  19. What does FSC-Certified Mean?




Does 'green' mean 'recycled' or does Office Depot offer more than just recycled products?

When most people think "green office supplies," they often think "recycled paper." However, while recycled content is an environmental benefit, there are a host of other positive environmental attributes such as: being refillable, remanufactured, biodegradable, energy efficient, non-toxic, designed for the environment, and made or powered by renewable energy.

Currently, the majority of products in "the buygreen site" are included because they contain recycled content. However, Office Depot already has hundreds of products in the other listed environmental benefit areas, and plan to introduce more in the future.




How did Office Depot select products for the buygreen site?

Office Depot recognizes that answering the question "what is green?" is not easy. To the environmental purist, no product is truly green because as soon as the manufacturing process begins, there is an environmental implication. Office Depot believes in finding a proper balance.

For the launch of the buygreen site, Office Depot selected products that have one or more of the three main environmental benefits: reduced waste, reduced energy and reduced chemical use.

Products that reduce waste and resources
  • Recycled: minimum 10% post-consumer recycled or 20% total recycled
  • Recycling solutions: bins, bags and boxes to encourage recycling
  • Remanufactured: ink and toner cartridges from previously used products
  • Refillable & refills: products that replace one-time-use disposables
  • Rechargeable: batteries and chargers to replace one-time use batteries
  • Rewritable: CDs, DVDs and Flash Drives to reduce paper and allow reuse

Products that reduce energy
  • Reduced energy in use: "Energy Star" qualified electronics and lights
  • Renewable energy in use: solar powered or manually cranked products

Products that reduce chemicals
  • Reduced chemicals in use: Certified non-toxic writing instruments and supplies
  • Reduced chemicals and waste in disposal: Biodegradable liquids and non-toxic solids

Where possible, Office Dept has also identified products that meet third-party guidelines such as Greenseal or the EPA's Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG).




I really like the buygreen site and want to expose other people to it, how should I do that?

Simply copy the link www.officedepot.com/buygreen and send it to whomever you'd like. Through the Office Depot Affiliate Program, your company or organization can actually earn money by referring people to Office Depot websites. By signing your organization up as an affiliate and recommending that members visit the buygreen site, you can actually make some green ($)!




What difference does it make if me or my company buys greener products - individual actions are insignificant, so why bother?

Environmental issues are so "big" that individual company actions seem insignificant. Also, many people think that companies in "high impact" sectors, e.g. forestry, oil & gas, aviation, utilities, chemicals etc., should bear the most responsibility. However, consider the following:
  • One vote in democracy can lead to a collective voice that makes a difference.
  • Companies in "high impact" sectors respond to market forces and customer demands. The combined efforts of end buyers will have the most positive impact down the supply chain.
  • Many companies from various sectors are starting to green their operations and finding cost savings and employee loyalty benefits in the process. Do you want your firm to be the environmental leader or laggard in your industry?




What are the Office Depot standards for recycled content products in the buygreen site?

The most environmentally beneficial products for the buygreen site were not used because Office Depot believes the path to environmental sustainability is through millions of mainstream customers making small, frequent decisions with the environment in mind. As such, making environmentally-conscious decisions are more sustainable than just a small number of environmental purists buying "perfectly environmental" products. With that being said, this "purist" logic has possibly kept the market for greener office supplies relatively small.

For example, the post-consumer recycled content cut-off for recycled products in Green Depot is 10% post -consumer recycled content and/or 50% total recycled content. This is lower than the government standard of 30% post-consumer recycled content and much lower than the 100% PCR guideline that some environmental groups stress.

Office Depot considers an incremental approach to be better in the long run than a purist approach because the market for greener office products is still relatively small. For example, in 2004, over 90% of all printing paper sold in the US still had 0% post-consumer recycled content. Office Depot want to change that by helping more mainstream customers go green.

This said, where possible Office Depot has also added the attribute "Meets US Government Environmental Standards," or "Meets EPA Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG)" to help indicate the products that meet the higher standards set for government green purchasing. These guidelines can be seen at www.ofee.gov




Are all your products certified as "green" by independent third parties?

Some of Office Depot products have labels indicating they have been independently verified as meeting established environmental standards. These include electronic products labeled as "Energy Star" qualified and paper products eco-labeled by Green Seal.

For example, our EnviroCopy paper is one of the few office products among big box suppliers to be certified by Greenseal, an independent U.S. based organization that independently validates supplier environmental claims and maintains ongoing audit processes.

Office Depot believes in eco-labeling and plans to introduce more eco-labeled options into future product assortments. However, at this stage, the majority of greener options have been selected because of their positive environmental attributes rather than a specific label.




How does Office Depot help customers decide between different green options?

Office Depot knows that different customers prioritize environmental issues in different ways. While some care more about lowering waste, others are concerned about energy efficiency or wanting to reduce chemicals in the world. Still, there are a number of individuals who simply want assurance that what they are buying is truly "green." Office Depot also recognizes that some products have multiple environmental benefits and that sometimes environmental benefits "compete."

The Office Depot solution is to:
  • Simplify the process of identifying products with any environmental benefit
  • Identifying the primary environmental benefit of products
  • Providing recycled content for recycled products, both post-consumer and total recycled content
  • Offering environmental education and tips

The goal for Office Depot is to offer customers a range of greener options in nearly all product categories and then choose products based on a balance between the environment and other factors (such as price, brand and quality) that users care most about.




Are green products always more expensive than standard office products?

No - Office Depot has hundreds of great quality green options at prices lower than other comparable products. Over a basket of goods, Office Depot does not want customers to have to sacrifice quality or price when "going green." The majority of green options on the buygreen site are equal to traditional office products in quality and performance. Such products could end up costing less!

For example:
  • The Office Depot brand remanufactured ink & toner cartridges average 15% lower in price than traditional cartridges, and come with a 100% money back quality guarantee.
  • The "Energy Star" qualified light bulbs and office technology can save you up to 75% of your energy costs.
  • Office Depot refillable pens and pencils can save you significant money in the long run because you will just buy refills instead of new disposables.




Is it true that green products are poorer quality than standard office products?

No - this is a myth that stems from a time when recycled paper had visible impurities and caused problems in printers. Today, customers do not have to sacrifice quality when going green. For example, the EnviroCopy from Office Depot, which is 35% post-consumer recycled paper, is just as speck-free and bright as the majority of other papers. Office Depot uses this as the standard paper across its North American operations, without facing printer problems.

In other product categories, green actually implies better quality. For example, "Energy Star" products are designed to operate with higher efficiency to help reduce operating costs. Many refillable pens and pencils are made of high quality, durable materials that last for years and could be indicative of a higher quality design.




What is the difference between recycled, pre-consumer recycled and post consumer recycled content for paper?

Recycled content describes use of any recovered paper to create new products. Recycled paper products may be made from pre-consumer or post-consumer content. A product does not have to contain 100% post-consumer materials to be labeled "recycled."

Pre-consumer recycled content paper contains scrap and trimmings from paper mills as well as paper products that never fulfilled their intended use in the consumer market (e.g. returned magazines and newspapers).

Post-consumer recycled content paper includes materials that have been through their intended life and would otherwise have been disposed of as a solid waste. Post-consumer paper includes recyclables such as office paper, cardboard and magazines collected in commercial and residential recycling programs. The higher the post-consumer recycled content, the more material diverted from municipal waste to landfill.




How do I choose between different recycled options for paper?

Office Depot has highlighted the following three examples to help choose between some of the Office Depot main recycled content cut sheet papers. Office Depot recommends prioritizing post-consumer recycled content over pre-consumer, and aiming for the highest post-consumer content possible in your budget.

"Just Green": For customers with a focus on the highest value without forgetting the environment, the Office Depot White Copy paper contains 10% post-consumer recycled content. As of mid-year 2006, none of our major North American competitors had any post-consumer recycled content in their main private brand multi-use copy paper. By taking this industry-leading position, Office Depot has made it simple for all our customers to become "just green."

"Light Green": For customers with a strong desire to make an environmentally preferable choice, the Office Depot EnviroCopy paper contains 35% post-consumer recycled content, and is bleached using an "elemental chlorine free" process. EnviroCopy paper is Greenseal certified and exceeds most state and federal government standards in its environmental attributes.

"Dark Green": For customers interested in the highest standards of environmental performance, Office Depot has introduced a new EnviroCopy paper which is almost 100% environmentally perfect. This paper contains 100% post-consumer recycled PCR content, is a high-bright 104, and is bleached with a process chlorine free bleaching method.




Does Office Depot offer any environmental services (e.g. recycling)?

Yes - Office Depot knows that environmental responsibility does not start and end with products. With that in mind, Office Depot has also worked on services to help customers lower waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

Ink & Toner Cartridge Recycling: You can order FREE, prepaid ink jet and toner cartridge recycling boxes on this site (SKU 816-656 for ink, SKU 824-712 for toner). Place them around your office and once they are filled with empty cartridges, simply return them in the prepaid box. It's a hassle-free way to save waste and energy.

Virtual Print on Demand: Instead of wasting fuel making trips back and forth for your print jobs, use the new "Print on Demand" service from Office Depot. Save time, fuel and the environment by going to www.officedepot.com/dps.do

Fuel-efficient delivery: Office Depot has already changed our fleet of delivery trucks to achieve much better fuel efficiency. To lower the greenhouse gas intensity of your orders, ask your account representative to switch you to a lower frequency delivery schedule, bi-weekly or weekly instead of next day. If you are a large business, Office Depot may even provide better pricing if you make this switch. See your account manager for details.




Why should I recycle my ink and toner cartridges?

Recycling ink and toner cartridges is one of those environmental actions that just makes sense for a number of reasons: lowering waste, reducing energy, reusing resources, saving money, and feeling good. The reality in the US today is that less than half of all ink cartridges get returned to retailers for remanufacturing or to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for recycling. The rest get sent to landfills.

Office Depot has been working for a number of years now to reverse this situation. In the first three years of our landmark ink and toner recycling program, over 12 million ink jets and nearly 3 million toner cartridges were recycled. Since each toner cartridge weighs approximately 2.5 pounds, the toner recycling program alone has saved almost 8 million pounds of metal and plastic from landfill.




What are the benefits of buying Office Depot remanufactured ink and toner cartridges?

Three good reasons:
  1. High quality ink and toner cartridges cost an average of 15% less than national brand cartridges
  2. Office Depot offers a 100% quality guarantee on its remanufactured ink & toner cartridges
  3. Remanufacturing one toner cartridge rather than using new plastic and metal conserves about a half gallon of oil and keeps about two and a half pounds of metal and plastic out of landfills

Think about it. If you spend $100,000 on ink & toner cartridges a year, you could save $15,000!




Does Office Depot use green office products in its own operations - what else does Office Depot do to "go green?"

Office Depot does use green office products and has a wide range of programs to green its own operations. In fact, the Office Depot' environmental vision can be summed up in three aspirational statements: increasingly "buy green, be green and sell green." Most of the programs in these three areas are described at www.officedepot.com/environment.

In terms of buying green, Office Depot has an internal policy to use the Office Depot Brand EnviroCopy as the default paper in all suitable black and white application, which is 35% recycled paper. Due to this commitment, Office Depot has more than doubled the average post-consumer recycled (PCR) content in our Design.Print.Ship locations from 14% to over 29% and achieved a similar jump in the average PCR content within our central production facilities and corporate head office.

Office Depot also actively uses its own ink and toner cartridges in printers and copiers and encourage the use of high recycled content file folders and hanging folders. As of end 2006, approximately 40% of the dollar value of products used internally was "green." That may not sound as high as it could be, but by spending nearly 40% of annual office supplies dollars on greener products, Office Depot is in the top 10% of large "green" Office Depot customers of 2006!




How do I learn more about how to green my worklife?

Office Depot believes that the best way to green your work life is to start taking many small steps every day to buying greener, being greener and selling greener. The key to doing this is not only increasing your environmental awareness and education, but more importantly, following up with small steps in all three areas: buy, be, sell. To help, there are selected links to Office Depot sites and a number of external sites that could be valuable as you progress on your journey to environmental sustainability.




Can Office Depot suggest some websites that help me learn more about greening my worklife?

Office Depot Sites & Resources
Top 20 tips to Go Green at Work
www.officedepot.com/environment
www.forestryalliance.org

Green Product Standards & Suggestions
www.greenseal.org

Green Paper Sites
www.conservatree.com
www.papercalculator.org

Green Business Sites
www.businessroundtable.org/seechange
www.greenbiz.com
www.sijournal.com

Green Advisors
www.greenorder.com
www.sustainability.com

Green Government Sites
www.epa.gov
www.ofee.gov
www.sustainlane.org

Sustainability Reporting Sites
www.globalreporting.org

Recycling Services Sites
Cell phones & batteries: www.rbrc.org
Paper: www.shred-it.com

Green Lifestyle Sites
www.plentymag.com
www.treehugger.com
www.0footprint.com
Green Conferences and Events
www.lohas.com
www.greenfestivals.com




I've found or purchased a product on the Office Depot green site that I don't think legitimately counts as "green" - what can I do?

Please first remember that the overall philosophy of Office Depot is to not focus only on the most environmentally beneficial products. Based on years of selling greener products, Office Depot believes the path to environmental sustainability is through millions of mainstream customers making small, frequent decisions with the environment in mind. As such, making environmentally-conscious decisions are more sustainable than just a small number of environmental purists buying "perfectly environmental" products. With that being said, this "purist" logic has possibly kept the market for greener office supplies relatively small.




I have a suggestion for a great green office product that Office Depot should offer - what can I do?

Office Depot welcomes good ideas and are always on the lookout for great new green product innovations. If you are a supplier of environmentally preferable office products, please consider these guidelines before submitting your idea on the comments form:
  1. Have you checked if Office Depot already has a similar product? If not, please check the Office Depot website first.
  2. If Office Depot has a similar product and you would still like to make your suggestion, please consider what advantage your product has (price, quality, environmental benefits, new features etc.)
  3. Office Depot tends to work with medium to large suppliers who can consistently create enough product volume to support distribution over more than a thousand stores. If your product is made of scrap materials and would be considered more of a "craft" item than a high-volume office product, it is unlikely that it could be able to offer at stores - sorry!


What does FSC-Certified Mean?

FSC certification is similar (although not the same as) "organic" labeling for food. Just like "organic food" comes from farms that practice more sustainable agriculture, the fiber in FSC-certified paper is assured to come from more "responsibly harvested forests." These forests are managed following rigorous standards that help ensure long-term renewable harvests, sustainable re-growth and biodiversity protection.

The majority of Office Depot papers are certified to either SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), CSA (Canadian Standards Association), or PEFC (Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification) standards. All of these standards are positive in that they provide strong guidance for good practices in responsible forest management. The main difference between FSC and the other schemes is that FSC is internationally-recognized whereas SFI and CSA certification is regional and PEFC is an umbrella scheme that recognizes different regional standards. FSC is also the certification regarded as the "gold standard" of forest management by more than 80 environmental groups like Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund and the Nature Conservancy.