SAN FRANCISCO - Another group of Fortune 500 companies has joined a growing corporate movement against the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), a controversial industry-sponsored 'eco-label' that greenwashes environmentally damaging products. The trend began in March when seven other prominent brands, including Allstate, Office Depot and United Stationers announced action to stop using the SFI's 'eco-label' on branded paper products or company publications.
Sprint, Norm Thompson Outfitters, King Arthur Flour, AT&T, State Farm, U.S. Bank and Comcast are the latest major brands to take action or make commitments that reduce their support for the SFI. Some of these companies also further boosted their environmental credibility by making stronger commitments to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) program. (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 build their credibility in the marketplace, not tools like SFI that are being investigated for misleading consumers."
Last Fall, ForestEthics published SFI: Certified Greenwash (view here), a report exposing SFI's false claims and inadequate standards to protect forests. 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 or commitments by Sprint, Norm Thompson Outfitters, King Arthur Flour, AT&T, State Farm, U.S. Bank and Comcast:
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 large-scale timber operations.