In a step for forest conservation, the national office supply chain Staples, Inc. unveiled its new policy of handling and advocating the use of forest-friendly paper.

On Nov. 12, Staples announced it would increase the recycled content of the paper it sells from less than 10 percent to an average of 30 percent. The corporation will also gradually cease to purchase paper products from endangered forests and will, through dialogues with suppliers and environmental leaders, ensure the protection of paper sources.

A press release from Staples stated by the end of 2003 it will strive to use only recycled paper for all internal operations. An environmental affairs division will be created on the senior level to monitor the progress of the corporation’s new guidelines.

Environmental activists greeted the announcement of Staples’ new policies with enthusiasm.

“This is a plus. It’s small steps like these that change the bigger picture,” Keith Zandona of the Surfrider Foundation said.

This move occurred as a reaction to a two-year crusade by the Paper Campaign, which consists of a coalition of dozens of groups concerned with the protection of endangered forests.

“It’s a meaningful change. We didn’t expect it to happen overnight, and nobody is disappointed by the amount of time it took,” Rebecca O’Malley, a program advocate for, said. has been involved with the Paper Campaign since spring 2001.

The Paper Campaign targeted Staples because of its size and because certain activist groups had accused the company of misleading consumers as to the use of old-growth timber products – products derived from large trees, which can be several hundred years old – in its paper goods. ForestEthics, an affiliate of the Paper Campaign, published a report stating Staples products contain old-growth products.

“We have stated in the past that we were working with our suppliers and asking them if they used old-growth product. The majority responded and said that they didn’t, but that doesn’t mean that all of our suppliers did not,” Staples Public Relations Manager Owen Davis said.

The Paper Campaign, responsible for over 600 protests and tens of thousands of calls to the CEO of Staples, invested a great amount of time and energy in encouraging Staples to make the change.

“This is a victory for the environment. Staples had been doing a lot, but the Paper Campaign raised some issues and brought some issues to our attention. We realized that while we were doing a lot there was a lot more that we could do,” Davis said.