Home Depot to Phase Out Old Growth Products
August 26, 1999
ATLANTA, Georgia, August 26, 1999 - The Home Depot, the world's largest home improvement retailer, used its 20th anniversary celebration to announce a policy change on wood sourcing. President and CEO Arthur Blank told Home Depot associates today the company will phase out the sale of wood products from old growth forests over the next three years.
"Our pledge to our customers, associates and stockholders is that Home Depot will stop selling wood products from environmentally sensitive areas," Blank said. "Home Depot embraces its responsibility as a global leader to help protect endangered forests. By the end of 2002, we will eliminate from our stores wood from endangered areas - including certain lauan, redwood and cedar products - and give preference to 'certified' wood."
To carry the "certified" label, a supplier's wood must be tracked from the forest, through manufacturing and distribution, to the customer and must ensure a balance of social, economic and environmental factors.
Home Depot has been the target of an intense campaign by environmental groups determined to get the company to stop selling wood products from increasingly rare old growth forests. Consumer boycotts, pickets and ad campaigns have been directed at the stores.
"This is indeed a bold step in advancing the cause of independent certification and responsible wood use throughout the industry," said David Ford, president of the Certified Forest Products Council, whose organization helps connect buyers and sellers of products coming from certified well-managed forests. "We're pleased that Home Depot is taking decisive action to protect endangered forested ecosystems around the world."
"Our company sells less than 10 percent of the lumber in the world, but is still the largest single retailer of lumber in the world," Blank said. "Today, the world supply of certified wood is extremely limited."
"Home Depot will use the power of its purchasing dollars to vote for products that do the most to preserve environmentally sensitive areas," he said. "We are asking our vendors to help us by dramatically increasing the supply of certified forest products."
Blank said Home Depot is encouraging other home improvement retailers to follow its lead.
For the past two years, San Francisco based forest protection organization Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has led an international campaign urging Home Depot to stop selling old growth wood. RAN has staged high-profile demonstrations at company headquarters in Atlanta, including hanging a giant banner there last October with the words, "Home Depot, Stop Selling Old Growth Wood."
RAN has also worked with major institutional shareholders, fought Home Depot expansion plans at local city council meetings, coordinated a national ad campaign, and organized demonstrations at several hundred Home Depot across the U.S. and Canada, and in Chile.
"We need to say thank you to all of the groups and individuals who have worked on this campaign," said RAN's Old Growth campaign director Michael Brune. "I don't think a single week has gone by in the past two years that RAN or one of its partners weren't out in the streets protesting Home Depot's egregious wood sales." Groups include Forest Action Network, Rainforest Relief, Student Environmental Action Coalition, Free the Planet, Sierra Student Coalition, Action Resource Center, American Lands Alliance, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earth Culture, and many others.
Greenpeace today welcomed Home Depot's announcement. The environmental group hailed the decision as a necessary step in preserving the world's few remaining ancient forests.
"Greenpeace looks forward to working with Home Depot on the implementation and enforcement of this policy," said Mat Jacobson, Greenpeace forest campaigner. "It is an exciting turn of events to have the world's largest do-it-yourself retailer emerge as an ally in our fight to save all the world's ancient forests, as well as many other sensitive forest ecosystems. Our forest experts are available to assist the company in achieving its laudable goals."
Founded in 1978, Home Depot ranks among the 10 largest retailers in the United States, with fiscal 1998 sales of $30.2 billion. It operates 856 stores in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Chile. The company employes approximately 157,000 associates.