March 2003

Big Box Bulletin

Home Depot Evaluates Timber Policy

Atlanta-based Home Depot recently released a report detailing the company’s efforts to support responsible timber practices, reported a January 2, 2003, article in the Wall Street Journal.

Like many retailers, the nation’s largest wood retailer has received pressure from environmental groups to help conserve forests. Home Depot sells more than $5 billion of lumber, plywood, doors and windows a year, according to the article.

In 1999, Home Depot said that it would stop selling wood from environmentally-sensitive forests by this year. At press time, no comment was available from Home Depot on whether or not this has occurred.

It hasn’t been easy for the big box to find out what wood is coming from what forests. The company “first had to ask its vendors where they got their wood, which meant the vendors, in turn, often had to ask their suppliers. Now, Home Depot says it knows the wood source of 8,900 different products—down to the blades on ceiling fans,” said the article.

The company also has had a trying time with vendors who get wood from non-sustainable forests. “Home Depot said it is reducing its wood purchases harvested from rainforests; less than 0.15 percent of the company’s wood products comes from areas around the Brazilian Amazon Basin, for example,” said the article.

Home Depot hopes that by continuing relationships with vendors buying from non-sustainable areas, as long as they show a commitment to improve, that it will keep “the lure of the purchase order out there,” according to Ron Jarvis, merchandising vice president for lumber and building materials.
In mid-2000, Home Depot’s rival, Lowe’s, released its own wood policy, which “sought to aggressively phase out the purchase of wood from endangered forests.” The Wilkesboro, N.C.-based company said it isn’t certain where 100 percent of its wood products originate. But it added that it has been trying to bridge gaps between environmentalists and big timber producers. 




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