Our Current Stories on Sustaining the Environment

Packaging and Product Innovations

Win-Win: Better Paper and Less of It

Packaging and Product Innovations

Paper products play a major role in how we do business—from shopping bags to register receipts—and we recognize that the amount of paper we use has an environmental cost. To address this, we have been working to reduce the amount of paper we use in our daily operations and to improve the environmental quality of the paper we purchase.

"Over the past several years, we've been able to decrease the amount of paper we've used, but we still grew as a company," said Steve Kesinger, Nordstrom's vice president of procurement. "When you can grow your company and still reduce your total paper consumption, that's a total win."

"When you can grow your company and still reduce your total paper consumption, that's a total win." - Steve Kesinger, Nordstrom Procurement

Changing the way we do business
Steady changes we've made in a number of areas that incorporate the use of paper and paper products have lead to declines in consumption. A big area of opportunity has been in our marketing efforts. In 2007, we switched to higher post-consumer-waste (PCW) paper content in our mailings, increasing PCW content in our catalogs from 10 to 30 percent. We also converted all paper in our catalogs to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper. FSC sets the standards for environmentally responsible forestry, and Nordstrom was the first major fashion specialty retailer to have both 30 percent PCW content and FSC-certified content for its entire catalog program.

These efforts have paid off. In 2009, Nordstrom decreased paper usage in our marketing efforts, saving 355 tons of paper, which equals about 61 acres of trees. Reductions in corrugate purchases helped us achieve additional decreases in the tonnage of paper and packaging we used in 2010, but we know we still have work to do and are continuing to look for ways increase the percentage of recycled content in the paper we purchase.

Outside of the box
Packaging was another area where we saw the need for improvement. Our shopping bags are 100 percent recyclable. And the bags at our Nordstrom Rack stores are now made from 80 percent recycled content and include an additive that helps them start to break down within nine months if they do end up in landfills. Our Nordstrom gift boxes are 100 percent recyclable and are made with 40 percent post-consumer waste.

Boxes we use to ship products to our customers from Nordstrom Direct are made from 100 percent recycled content. Nordstrom Direct also added two new box sizes to reduce the amount of cardboard in shipments to our customers and continues to look for even more options with a focus on making packaging reductions that will ultimately lead to an overall paper and packaging consumption decrease.

One program we've implemented was the brainchild of Julie Dieringer, store administrator at Nordstrom's downtown Portland, Oregon location. Dieringer researched how we could reuse boxes that were still in good shape. Her idea was the start of an effort that continues to grow—today we reuse about 150 boxes per week, and we plan to continue to increase that number.

We've also worked hard to change our practices behind the scenes, and we're pleased with the results so far. We've educated our people to think before they print and we've set up our copy machines to duplex, so most pages are printed on both sides.

Packaging and Product Innovations

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