ATLANTA: The Home Depot has released a report to select environmental and government groups that details its timber-purchasing practices. The report comes after wood retailers have come under significant pressure from environmental groups, which allege that timber retailers have been selling wood that was gathered from environmentally sensitive areas.
The Home Depot, which is the largest retailer of wood in the US, had become an especially attractive target for environmentalists.
A Wall Street Journal article in 2000 recounted how activists had gone so far as to commandeer the store intercoms in several Home Depots to make jarring announcements such as, "Attention shoppers, on aisle seven you'll find mahogany ripped from the heart of the Amazon."
Nevertheless, the company was not eager to draw attention to this current report, which was distributed to select groups and was not accompanied by a press release or other visible formal announcement. The Home Depot also declined to comment for this article.
Nevertheless, initial reaction to the report was mostly positive from some of the company's harshest critics.
"The progress Home Depot has made removing products from endangered forests from its shelves is impressive," said the National Rainforest Network.
"The company has succeeded in establishing meaningful 'chain of custody' to track the origin of nearly all its wood products."
The report was also a PR win for the environmental groups themselves that have been attempting to get wood dealers to acknowledge their timber-conservation agenda.
"While we think Home Depot still needs to take some more steps, we do view the report as something of a milestone," said Sara Brown Riggs, a spokesman for the National Rainforest Network. "We want to see more, but it's a step in the right direction."
Home Depot tapped a third party, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), to produce the report. BSR is a global nonprofit organization that assists companies in dealing with CSR issues.
Home Depot says the report is part of a plan the company implemented in 1999, which it dubbed its Wood Purchasing Policy. Under the policy, the company planned to cease selling wood products gathered from environmentally sensitive areas, beginning in 2003.