SFI's 'green' claims are misleading consumers
SAN FRANCISCO - Seven companies, including five from the Fortune 500, have made new commitments and actions to stop using the Sustainable Forestry Initiative's (SFI) 'eco-label' on branded paper products or company publications.
Aetna, Allstate, Garnet Hill, Office Depot, Performance Bicycles, Symantec, and United Stationers each made separate commitments or took actions (see below for details).
"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."
Last Fall, ForestEthics published SFI: Certified Greenwash, a report exposing a number of SFI's false claims. The report describes how SFI, funded and managed primarily by some of the world's largest timber companies, gives a 'green' seal of approval to the environmentally harmful practices of these same companies. The previous year, ForestEthics filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and Internal Revenue Service alleging that SFI misleads the public through deceptive marketing and operates as a nonprofit charity even though it primarily serves private for profit interests.
Here is a summary of actions and commitments by Aetna, Allstate, Garnet Hill, Office Depot, Performance Bicycles, Symantec, and United Stationers:
Aetna: Committed to phasing out use of the SFI logo on printed marketing materials.
Allstate: Will shift all office paper in Allstate facilities nationwide from SFI certified to FSC certified.
United Stationers: Committed to using FSC as its benchmark for acceptable forest certification in procurement and marketing.
Symantec: Removed SFI language from website and committed to integrate this position into internal practices for paper marketing materials and packaging.
Garnet Hill: Will no longer print its catalog on paper labeled with the SFI seal.
Performance Bicycles: Will no longer print its catalog on SFI certified paper.
Office Depot: Will phase-out use of the SFI logo on Office Depot brand papers as reported by ForestEthics in its 2010 Green Grades report.
SFI today gives its seal of approval or 'certification' to activities on more than 160 million acres of forests or tree plantations all across North America. Virtually all of SFI's funding comes from the companies that own or manage these lands. Out of 543 audits of SFI-certified companies since 2004, not one acknowledges any major issues-such as soil erosion, clearcutting, water quality, or chemical usage-that are known to be problems with the large-scale operations approved by SFI.