Office Depot takes Green Book overseas

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Office Depot Inc. last month expanded distribution of its business-to-business catalog of environmentally preferable products to five countries in Europe.

The Green Book, launched in the United States in 2003, makes it easier for companies interested in environmentally friendly products to understand Office Depot's wide assortment. As a result, the company has experienced growth in green sales, said Yalmaz Siddiqui, environmental strategy adviser for Office Depot. The company hopes the catalog will do the same for sales in Britain, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Belgium.

"We feel the opportunity is as big, if not bigger, in Europe," where the environmental movement tends to be more advanced than in the United States, Mr. Siddiqui said.

The catalog will be distributed via mail to specific existing accounts and prospects. Also, account reps will use it as a sales tool in meetings with existing accounts and prospects. Anyone interested in requesting a catalog in these countries may call a local telephone number.

"The Green Book is a good tool to include in request-for-proposals that have green-related questions as a way to win accounts," Mr. Siddiqui said. In the United States, the catalog is also useful for college campus greening educators, federal and state government agencies faced with green purchasing guidelines and financial services firms trying to mitigate their environmental impact.

About 15 percent of the catalog is dedicated to education, with tips on how to make decisions about green purchases, what a low-toxicity cleaner is and how to become greener. The rest of the book showcases 6,000 products, from remanufactured ink and toner cartridges to office equipment such as computers, monitors and printers.

"We want to broaden the dialogue on green," Mr. Siddiqui said. "It's also about ink cartridges and low-toxicity cleaning supplies, which isn't really understood in the business landscape enough yet."

Office Depot, Delray Beach, FL, will gauge the Green Book's success in Europe and consider expanding it to more countries. The expansion is an example of "the globalization trend in Office Depot as a whole," he said.

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