Here, Staples Professional President Michelle Micuda discusses what it truly means to run a sustainable business and how Staples Professional is leading its customers into a greener future.
Q: (Staples Professional): In your own words, what is sustainability in business?
A (Micuda): To me a sustainable business is one that is always considering its impact on the world, including the environment, our communities, employees, customers, and suppliers. It’s a business that’s working every day to reduce the negative impacts and increase the positive impacts on the world. Every business has a part to play in contributing to the health and sustainability of our planet for future generations. We, as business leaders can do that by making our teams, our product/solution offerings and our operations as sustainable and socially responsible as possible.
Q: What is your vision for sustainability at Staples Professional?
A: We are dedicated to being a leader in sustainability and social responsibility and are embedding those efforts into every part of our organization. Sustainability is and will continue to be a core part of our culture. For us, it’s about involving all stakeholders in our journey: our associates, customers, suppliers, and community.
A pride point for us is our commitment to continuous improvement and finding new and improved ways to conduct our business responsibly. One of the ways we demonstrate this to our customers is by maintaining ISO 9001 and 14001 certifications. Recently, we have added EV vehicles to our operations, another exciting step for us.
Q: Why is sustainability important for business?
A: First and foremost, it’s the right thing to do for our planet and for each other. The connection between the environment, education and businesses is a powerful and important one. As the Working and Learning company, our goal is to find ways to help Canadians personally and professionally in making good sustainable choices.
Q: Staples Professional has continued to improve on its sustainability efforts, not only from an operational standpoint, but in product offering as well. How do these actions toward improving sustainability ultimately benefit those further down the supply chain?
A: We know our customers are looking to improve their sustainability efforts and rely on suppliers like us to present solutions — that’s a serious responsibility we have. When it comes to helping our customers, I think of it in three ways:
1) Products. We want to make sure we provide a broad selection of eco-conscious products that perform well. For example, recycling boxes for masks/PPE, eco-friendly cleaning products like Coastwide, alternative fibre paper and products produced from recycle materials like writing instruments.
2) Recycling programs. Our stores and delivery drivers not only take back the corrugated boxes we deliver orders in, but also accept/collect ink, toner, electronic waste (computers, printers, phones, batteries) and office products like pens.
3) Education and data. We play a role not only in increasing awareness of sustainable products but also creating education within the organization. More customers are now looking for ways to reduce small orders to drive their sustainability metrics. They’re also interested in understanding how much of their spend is going toward sustainable products. We’re here to help them improve their business by providing reporting and benchmarking as well as sharing our internal best practices, and in turn, they share theirs which helps us improve our operations.
Q: Whether it’s from customers or other organizations at large, are there any impactful sustainability trends in business you’ve observed?
A: Customers are asking more questions about their supply chain given the challenges during the pandemic — not only about efficiency, but also about reliability and sustainability. Second, businesses are focused on education and how they can drive change, both with their associates and the customers they are servicing.
Businesses are looking to make these changes as easy as possible and they’re leaning on us to ensure sustainable products and practices are part of their shopping experience. With this in mind, we encourage our customers to use our Switch to Eco, a feature on our online ordering platform, eway.ca that provides eco-friendly product alternatives at checkout. We are also encouraging our customers to eliminate their orders under $50, understanding the impact of multiple small deliveries on the environment that can be avoided through a little advance planning.
Q: What is Staples Professional looking to do in the future to support sustainability? What do you want to do more of?
A: We want to continue to provide sustainable products and services, scanning the market to find the best to bring to our customers and look for new recycling program opportunities. We also want to continue educating our employees and customers. Our Spotlight events will play a big part in that.
Community is the other extremely important connection point. We work and have partnerships with some great sustainability partners like Tree Canada and Bullfrog Power. We want to continue to encourage our associates to get involved in their communities, whether that’s planting trees or supporting one of our customers’ causes.
Lastly, we need to continue to build on our sustainable operations to reduce our environmental impact. That also includes our supply chain and ensuring we have great practices in terms of vendor and product selection, packaging minimization and inbound deliveries.
Q: What strides has Staples Professional made in working towards sustainability goals?
A: Over the past two years, on average, each of our facilities have saved over 195.4 MT of greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to around 550K miles driven) through a reduction of energy and natural gas use. As well, Staples Professional has offset over 630 MT of carbon emissions through the purchase of clean, renewable energy from Bullfrog Power.
In the past year, we’ve also implemented a new and improved transportation management system. It gives us the ability to optimize our daily delivery routes and minimize our fleet’s carbon impact. In addition, we added electric vehicles to our delivery fleet