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Responsible Paper Procurement

Sprint recognizes the significance of paper and printing to many of our business operations – from direct marketing and customer invoicing to information sharing and reporting. We also understand that paper production is a resource-intensive endeavor that depends heavily on forests, water and energy. Unchecked demand and mismanagement of these resources can have an effect on the climate, on biodiversity, and on the health and well-being of communities.

In 2009, Sprint established a Paper Leadership Council comprised of the key business units driving paper purchases within the company. The council includes: Marketing Communications (for post-paid and pre-paid brands), IT Care & Billing Services, Real Estate, Retail Operations, Supply Chain, and Corporate Responsibility. Its mission is to set guidance for responsible procurement of printing paper and print services.

The council’s initial step was to develop a baseline for how much paper the company purchased. It determined that in 2007, Sprint bought 25,444 metric tons of printing paper. Stacked in a single column, that would be enough 8.5” x 11” sheets of copy paper to reach the International Space Station more than four times. With such large demand, the council’s first goal was to reduce the amount of printing paper purchased. Since 2007, Sprint has achieved a 64.6% reduction in its annual paper purchases, through a variety of reduction strategies and saved a cumulative, estimated total of $64 million dollars.

Recognizing that paper is a multi-faceted issue, the council went on to establish a Paper & Print Procurement Policy. Initially published in the fall of 2010 and last updated in December of 2011, the policy went beyond setting guidance for how much printing paper Sprint procures. It also addresses where the paper comes from, what it’s made of, how it’s produced, and how it’s printed. Sprint’s Paper & Print Procurement Policy outlines our commitments, focus areas and goals, which are summarized below. Our performance against these commitments and goals is also provided.


  • Support sustainable forest management
  • Work with environmentally and socially responsible suppliers
  • Purchase paper with more recycled content
  • Optimize Sprint’s paper use

Additional Focus Areas

  • Avoid knowingly purchasing paper from illegally harvested or stolen wood or that comes from ancient, endangered, high conservation value, or controversial forests
  • Work with suppliers and stakeholders to explore and encourage development of low-environmental-impact and commercially viable sources of paper fiber, such as agricultural residues
  • All other decision factors equal, give purchasing preference to paper products that are processed total chlorine-free

Goals & Performance

  • FSC-certified Paper Goal: At least 90% of the printing paper Sprint purchases will be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified from North American forests and supplied by U.S.-based companies by year-end 2012, and 100% by year-end 2017.
    Performance – In 2011, 70% of the paper Sprint purchased met this criterion, up 11 percentage points from 2010. This was achieved by shifting customer invoice forms and remit envelopes to FSC-certified paper, on top of the paper Sprint’s Marketing and Real Estate teams were already purchasing with that designation. In May of 2012, Sprint’s outer envelopes, used to send the invoices, were shifted to FSC-certified paper with the full roll-out of its new ecoEnvelope™ solution for customer invoices. With that change, Sprint expects to reach the 90% goal in 2012. (For clarification, SFI-certified paper remains an option in Sprint's purchasing portfolio, if FSC market supplies tighten.)

  • Supplier Compliance Goal: At least 50% of Sprint’s paper and print suppliers will comply with Sprint’s environmental and social criteria by year-end 2012, and at least 90% will comply by year-end 2017. Percentages are based on Sprint’s spend with suppliers.
    Performance – In 2011, because Sprint’s Paper Leadership Council was evaluating potential criteria and had yet to set expectations for its suppliers, no percent of compliance was available. Those benchmarks have now been established. In the spring of 2012, Sprint shared with its printers the criteria it will use to evaluate their environmental performance. The criteria include such things as whether printers are tracking and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions, have targets for recycling waste paper and inks, are achieving target levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the chemicals they use, and have identified hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) in the workplace. Sprint has also set expectations for its paper suppliers. Each needs to provide details on the products they sell to Sprint - the bleaching process, forest of origin and specific tenure/ ownership, tree species/ logging rotation/ year of previous harvest, pulping efficiency, and certification/third party verification. Sprint anticipates at least 50% of its paper and print suppliers, by spend, will comply with their respective criteria by year-end 2012.

  • Recycled Content Goal: Total weight of the printing paper Sprint purchases annually will contain a minimum of 10% post-consumer waste (PCW) by year-end 2012, and a minimum of 25% PCW by year-end 2017.
    Performance – In 2011, Sprint’s use of recycled content remained constant. As in 2010, the total printing paper Sprint purchased contained 6% PCW by weight. That contribution comes from the 30% PCW copy paper Real Estate procures for the company, and the 10% PCW associated with pieces printed by Marketing (retail point-of-presence materials and collateral, direct mail, etc.). Looking ahead, Marketing has developed a six-year plan to increase its PCW from 10% to 30% by 2017. In addition, IT Care & Billing Services is evaluating opportunities to increase PCW in customer invoice forms. Based on these plans, we expect Sprint to meet its goal of 10% PCW by year-end 2012.

  • Paper Reduction Goal: Total weight of the printing paper Sprint purchases annually will be reduced at least 30% by year-end 2012, and at least 40% by year-end 2017 (based on a 2007 baseline).
    Performance – In 2011, Sprint achieved a 64.6% reduction in paper purchased from its 2007 baseline. This exceeded its 2017 goal, and was more than a 21 percentage point improvement over 2010. Paper purchases decreased for all business units within Sprint. The most significant year-over-year reduction (49%) was in Marketing as the level of retail collateral and direct marketing required for the year was optimized. Paper purchases by IT Care & Billing Services dropped 17% based on increased paperless billing adoption (30% of customer accounts had converted to this option by year-end 2011) and a transition to more streamlined billing formats. Real Estate’s 14% reduction was due to further optimization and removal of office printing devices and use of paperless office tools. In anticipation of the company’s continued growth, Sprint’s Paper Leadership Council plans to retain the current 40% reduction goal for 2017 and to continue to hold paper purchases at that level or better moving forward.