OVERLAND PARK, KS, June 11, 2015 (Business Wire) -In its latest effort to optimize paper use and reduce environmental impact, Sprint will pilot a new kind of forest friendly paper for customer mailings in the coming months. The paper, made of wheat-straw byproduct, is not noticeably different to the naked eye than wood-derived paper. However, it offers a new, sustainable alternative and potential longer-term cost savings as additional paper sources and suppliers are introduced into North America. Sprint's pilot to use the wheat-straw paper for mailed customer correspondence is a first in the U.S.
"We believe sourcing and procuring opportunities like this only improve our supply chain," said Scott Rice, vice president of IT Care and Billing at Sprint. "We're known for our mindfulness around environmentally sustainable business practices, and this is an innovative approach to using a quality mail product that helps us diversify our suppliers and helps manage costs."
In 1998, long-time environmental advocate and two-time Academy Award nominee Woody Harrelson co-founded and invested in Prairie Paper Inc. The company spent 15 years in research and development and in 2012 launched the production of its wheat-straw based paper, Step Forward PaperTM. The paper is made of 80 percent wheat-straw waste and 20 percent Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certified wood fiber. Step Forward requires 65 percent less land area to produce one ton of paper on an annual basis than virgin tree-based paper and 50 percent less land area than paper with 30 percent recycled content. Today, Step Forward Copy Paper is available in the U.S. exclusively through Staples.com and Staples Advantage.
"Of all the trees cut down in the world, anywhere from 3 billion to 6 billion a year, half of those are used to make paper," said Harrelson. "So to redefine the way that paper is made would be a really important paradigm shift. And that's what we've done here." 1
Sprint has reduced the total weight of printing paper it has purchased annually by 83 percent since 2007. This effort was achieved by optimizing the weight and volume of its mailed customer correspondence and by communicating with and servicing customers online among other efforts. In 2012, Sprint also launched the ecoEnvelopeTMfor customers who chose to continue receiving a paper bill. This inventive two-in-one reusable envelope reduces paper use and saves more than $500,000 annually. Like Step Forward Paper, it is helping to advance sustainability throughout the mail industry.
"Sprint's innovative approach to test-pilot the use of our paper in roll form will increase demand and showcase how paper made from agricultural waste fibers can compete on quality and price," said Jeff Golfman, co-founder and president of Prairie Paper Inc. "Our goal is to establish a market that will support our plans to build a pulp and paper mill facility in North America, which will enable us to produce this paper with an even smaller environmental and economic footprint."
Sprint's award-winning sustainable business practices have been widely recognized as moving the wireless industry forward. For the fourth straight year, Frost & Sullivan gave the carrier a Green Excellence Award. Sprint's phone buyback, reuse and recycling program has also received top honors from Compass Intelligence and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Sprint (NYSE: S) is a communications services company that creates more and better ways to connect its customers to the things they care about most. Sprint served more than 57 million connections as of March 31, 2015, and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; leading no-contract brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. Sprint has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) North America for the past four years. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.
About Prairie Paper
The industry leader in research, development and commercialization of tree-free pulp and paper for the past 18.5 years, Prairie Paper Inc. is led by President Jeff Golfman and Chairman Clayton Manness, who co-founded the company with Woody Harrelson. Phase one for the company is the manufacturing and importing of Step Forward PaperTM. Phase two will include constructing a 100 percent tree-free, state-of-the-art eco-mill in North America, where millions of tons of leftover straw are readily available. The trademark license code for Prairie Paper Inc. is FSC® C109753. For more information visit www.stepforwardpaper.com.
1 Quote originally appeared in an article by Triple Pundit