Office Depot, the Boca Raton, FL-based Office Supply retailer, has had a strong commitment to sustainability for over a decade. The company’s “Greener Office” program has helped customers large and small reduce waste, energy and chemical use. In recent years, Office Depot has made a concerted effort to enter the Green-Sports intersection. GreenSportsBlog discussed how and why the company is helping to green the sports industry with Molly Ray, Office Depot’s Environmental Solutions Manager.
GreenSportsBlog: Molly, before we get into Office Depot and its involvement in the Greening of Sports, let’s talk more broadly about its overall green strategy and “Greener Office”
Molly Ray: Green moves the needle for businesses, plain and simple. We go in and listen to our customers, listen to the market and give our customers greener solutions to their office supply needs. From different paper types to recycling, from safer inks to organic cleaning products, “Greener Office” helps businesses generate new revenues and/or reduce cost by going greener.
GSB: How has the Office Depot sales force embraced “Greener Office”?
MR: They’re very enthusiastic. We created a special certification/training program the team to give them baseline knowledge about sustainability and Office Depot’s commitment to it on behalf of our customers. Our sales force, through “Greener Office”, has made us the category leader over our competition in terms of green attributes, eco labels and a number of other measures.
Molly Ray, Office Depot’s Environmental Solutions Manager, has helped lead the company’s move into the Green-Sports business world. (Photo Credit: Bronwen Houck Photography)
GSB: Congratulations! And well-earned! Now how and when did Office Depot enter the Green-Sports space?
MR: We of course understand its power and profile. It’s a huge, cross-dimensional space–meaning we can reach lots of demographics in terms of age, geography, etc. While sports is big, we started small, in the Pacific Northwest, which is where I’m based (Seattle). Our first initiative was to deliver office supplies to the Portland Timbers by bicycle! Then we became a sponsor of the Green Sports Alliance back in 2011-2012.
GSB: Delivery by bike–very cool! What about the Alliance appealed to Office Depot?
MR: Office Depot’s values are aligned nicely with those of the Alliance. Green procurement. Reduce waste. Building a movement that makes green the “new normal”. We particularly believe that the Green Sports Alliance Summit is a great vehicle for us. We’ve sponsored it for the past 3 years. The Summits allow us to meet folks from sports facilities, teams and leagues who we think would benefit greatly from the “Greener Office” approach–basically, we create a playbook for greener offices for sports teams and venues.
GSB: Has “Greener Office” expanded to sports teams/leagues/venues beyond the Pacific Northwest?
MR: Yes. We’re working with the Maryland Stadium Authority, which includes Camden Yards (Orioles) and M&T Bank Stadium (Ravens) across the street. We met the Procurement Director for the Authority at the 2013 Green Sports Alliance Summit in Brooklyn. From there we identified green products and services that could benefit both facilities. And, if/when the venues decide to renovate with an eye towards LEED certification, our team can help them make sure they’re using the green products that will accrue LEED points (65% of office products must be considered green the US Green Building Council for a facility to qualify for LEED Gold status). Office Depot also provides the reporting and documentation for the relevant portions of a LEED submission.
Camden Yards, home of the 2014 AL East Division Champion Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles and the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, who play across the street at M&T Bank Stadium, have adopted Office Depot “Greener Office” approach to reduce waste, energy and water usage. (Photo Credit: Baltimore Orioles/Major League Baseball)
GSB: That’s a valuable service for sports facilities–and any other highly trafficked venue. Going forward, how does Office Depot see its involvement in the Green-Sports world?
MR: At the 2014 Alliance Summit, we were able to communicate to sports teams and venues, the details and benefits of our recent merger with OfficeMax. As we move towards 2015, we expect that our sports-related “Greener Office” successes will turn the heads of teams and venue operators who have not yet taken part. So we see Green-Sports as a significant growth area.
GSB: Good luck. And I hope your cyclists wear helmets!
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