Office products company Staples Incorporated was recently recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency for its achievements in sustained excellence in green power and for leadership in advancing green power development. Staples was one of 21 organizations recognized at the 13th annual awards ceremony.

Staples is no stranger to green practices, and has been recognized by the EPA numerous times since it joined the agency's Green Power Partnership in 2002 to reduce the environmental impact of electricity use. Since its initial commitment to use 2 percent green power that year, Staples has purchased more than 516 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy certificates RECs.  In early 2013, Staples increased its company-wide green power use to more than 100 percent through these green power purchases and on-site generation. Staples has 34 solar arrays in the U.S., totaling nearly 11 megawatts of installed solar capacity.

One of Staples' goals is to become a community leader in sustainability. The company offers more than 10,000 products with eco-friendly attributes, and launched its Sustainable Earth brand in Europe and Australia in 2012. It accepts old items for recycling, and in 2012 collected 76.5 million ink and toner cartridges and 19.3 million pounds of old technology. The company has also awarded $75,000 to Australian schools and community groups for environmental education projects through the Staples Go Green Grants program.

Additional community initiatives include Staples Canada donating 20 computer labs in 2013 to environmentally responsible schools, and Staples Germany supporting the United Nations Environmental Program's Billion Tree Campaign by planting more than 44 acres of trees across the country.

Staples has attempted to reduce the environmental strain of its sales by minimizing its packaging in more than half of its distribution centers. In mid-2013, the company added five new all-electric delivery trucks to its current fleet of 53.

Staples' success in its green initiatives is largely due to its holistic approach to sustainability, from production and packaging to delivery, community awareness and building efficiency. There are currently seven LEED-certified Staples facilities in the United States, and large-scale goals to significantly reduce landfill waste, electrical consumption and overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Past award winners include Intel, Whole Foods and Kohl's. This year's 21 winners were chosen from a pool of more than 1,500 partner organizations, ranging in size from Fortune 500 companies to local businesses and college and universities.

By using green power, these partnering organizations not only reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, but support the renewable energy industry, promote environmental awareness and help lead the country toward a more sustainable future.

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