Fighting for Forests, Walmart Moves to Source Sustainable Paper

By Chasity Prince, Senior Buyer, Stationery
Jul 17, 2020 1:30 PM ET

The journey from tree, to pulp, to paper is a long one. It doesn’t happen overnight or without the input of people across the supply chain. And because that journey impacts forests around the world, we aim to have it begin and end with sustainability at its core.

At Walmart, we believe a healthy natural world is key to healthy communities. That belief drives our zero net deforestation goal, using pulp and paper sourcing practices that seek to reduce our forest “footprint” and promote sustainable management and conservation efforts.

This goal is important because deforestation is occurring at a staggering pace. Globally, we are losing the equivalent of a soccer field’s worth of primary rain forest every six seconds due to production of agricultural and forest products and other human-caused impacts.1

Making the Change

Right in time for the back-to-school shopping season, Walmart is strengthening our sustainable sourcing requirements for products that contain paper and pulp (excluding wood pencils) sold in Stationery departments across our U.S. stores. Walmart requires these products be made from either recycled material, virgin fiber certified to standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), or a mix of recycled and certified virgin fiber.

With this step, we are extending our sourcing approach for paper products in Stationery departments across our U.S. stores to include both private and national brands. That means customers can expect the same commitment to sustainability across all the brands available in Stationery departments of our U.S. stores.

This move is part of Walmart’s ongoing work with global private brands suppliers and larger goals related to deforestation, which recognize the FSC, SFI and PEFC certification programs, with a preference for FSC certification - especially in high priority countries 2 - when it is available in quantities, performance characteristics and prices that meet our suppliers’ needs. And though the move to more sustainably sourced paper means additional requirements for buyers and suppliers, it’s a change we’re willing to make because it promotes forest health and preservation of forest resources into the future.

Once fully transitioned to certified and/or recycled content, packaging on products like loose-leaf paper, spiral notebooks, composition notebooks, planners, poster board and more will have FSC, SFI, PEFC or 100% recycled logos visible to our customers.

Making the Impact

“Purchasing paper products made with fiber from responsibly managed forests or recycled fiber is an important action consumers can take to help sustain forests for people and nature,” said Linda Walker, senior director, forests, World Wildlife Fund. “We applaud the step Walmart is taking to strengthen its stationery sourcing requirements and help its customers be part of the solution.”

People want to feel good about the products they buy, and our customers count on us to deliver access to safer, healthier and more affordable products in a way that is sustainable for people and the planet. That’s why Walmart encourages suppliers to certify their products and works with them to increase transparency and traceability back to products’ origins.

As Walmart continues to work with others to prioritize sustainable forestry, we have the chance to be part of a change that supports forests, and the people who rely on them, for generations to come.

2 “High priority countries” are as defined by the Consumer Goods Forum: Indonesia (fiber source), Malaysia (wood chips source), China (fiber source and trader), Thailand (fiber source), and Colombia (fiber source).