Staples Promotional Products (PPAI 108945, D15) is raising the bar for sustainability transparency in the promotional products industry.

The Kansas-headquartered distributor, a subsidiary of the office retail giant Staples, has announced the creation of what is thought to be the market’s first sustainable procurement platform, in conjunction with EcoVadis, a leading sustainability ratings provider for enterprises.

The promise is that SPP will be able to offer full sustainability transparency to every link in its supply chain.

“At a time when third-party suppliers account for 90% of total environmental impact, SPP is proud to be first in the industry to establish an unbiased sustainable procurement platform,” says Staples Promotional Products President Daron Hines. “We’re the first and only distributor that can offer stakeholders sustainability transparency for 100% of the value chain.”

The Deal

EcoVadis, which provides holistic sustainability ratings for companies, covers its clients’ impacts in a broad range of measures, including environmental, labor and human rights, ethics and sustainable procurement.

Through the deal, SPP and its suppliers will be annually assessed and scored by EcoVadis. SPP had leaned on suppliers to cooperate with EcoVadis assessments in order to do business with the company, one of the industry’s largest distributors.

  • SPP is currently the only brand merchandiser that uses EcoVadis to assess, score and report supply chain sustainability performance.
  • EcoVadis also awarded SPP a Silver medal for sustainability after assessing its decoration and distribution operations.

What It Means

Staples is not the only promotional products company that has engaged EcoVadis for ratings. Companies such as Gemline (PPAI 113948, S11) and Geiger (PPAI 105182, D12) have turned to EcoVadis for assessments of their own sustainability practices.

However, as the importance for sustainability assessments has grown, EcoVadis and organizations like it have developed extensive waiting lists for their services.

  • Some industry companies have reported that their assessments have been tabled by EcoVadis for more than a year.
  • Having already established a head start, Staples signals that it intends to push even further.

“While this is a significant first for the industry, it’s only a first step for SPP,” Hines says. “By 2025, our goal is to reach Platinum recognition level in our operations and have EcoVadis metrics that objectively demonstrate the most sustainable supply chain in the industry.”

  • The announcement comes 11 months after Hines was named president of Staples Promotional Products, following stints at companies such as Morton Salt and General Mills.

David McClintock, marketing director at EcoVadis, says, “By launching this sustainable supply chain initiative, Staples Promotional Products is directing their ambition to the point of greatest leverage to bolster their long-term growth and accelerate towards improved sustainability impact.

“Having been rated themselves sets a strong example for their suppliers.”