Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Others Accused of Selling Illegal Wood

Discussion
Nov 03, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Target, Kmart and Macy’s are among the retailers accused by two environmental advocacy groups of stocking products made from illegal and endangered
species of wood from Honduras.

The groups, the Environmental Investigation Agency and the Center for International Policy, plan to release a report today that claims retailers are, in many cases unwittingly,
selling illegally harvested timber.

Home Depot previously pledged to improve the transparency of its wood sourcing to avoid illegal imports. About 10 percent of the company’s annual revenues comes from the sale
of wood.

“Clearly the Home Depot policy has not been adequately applied to wood products sourced in Honduras,” said Allan Thornton, president of the independent Environmental Investigation
Agency.

The DIY retailer’s supplier, Aljoma Lumber, disputes the findings of the research.

“There’s simply no truth to it that Home Depot is profiting from potentially illegal logging,” David Flinn, Aljoma’s chief financial officer, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“We export certain products to the United States from Honduras, but it’s not sold to Home Depot.”

The problem, say those familiar with the issue, is that the Honduran government checks so few exports that it is easy to move illegal wood out of the country.

In a separate interview, Mr. Thornton told The Associated Press, “At this point, it is very difficult for the consumer to identify what they’re buying. It’s extremely
difficult for anyone to say with certainty that any wood product coming from Honduras originated from legal timber because there’s so much illegal logs and illegal timber circulating
internally into the chain of supply.”

The illegal wood trade has contributed to deforestation in the country while encouraging corruption. According to the Environmental Investigation Agency and the Center for International
Policy, conflicts between loggers and ecologists are escalating.

Moderator’s Comment: Do the retailers identified as selling illegal wood products from Honduras (assuming it is true) throw up their hands and say they
cannot do anything about it or are there other practical ways they can address the issue?

Our first thought was that, if they cannot be sure that the wood from Honduras is legal, then perhaps they should source it from other countries. Innocent
people would certainly get hurt but perhaps it would take something as drastic as that to get the Honduran government to live up to its oversight responsibilities and get the
logging companies to play by the rules.

George Anderson – Moderator

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7 Comments on "Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Others Accused of Selling Illegal Wood"


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Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

To continue the ivory example, if retailers were given documents saying that the product is legal, are they responsible for checking the veracity of the documents? If so, then the same standard applies for other businesses, right?

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 3 months ago

Could you wake me up when this is over?

Len Lewis
Guest
Len Lewis
15 years 3 months ago

There is such a thing as global corporate responsibility. Home Depot and Target should look into the matter. When corporate giants like these show they care, things get done.

But how can you chastise suppliers when their government supports the rape of their own land by profiteers?

Bob Bridwell
Guest
Bob Bridwell
15 years 3 months ago

The companies bear the responsibility to make reasonably sure what they are selling is legal and is properly sourced. It seems to me that the “watchdogs” should take their facts to the companies and lay them out to give the company a chance to investigate and correct their errors, if any. Throwing a big press blitz seems to be jumping the gun.

The idea should be working together. The “gotcha” M.O. doesn’t make for long term relationships.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

If Macy’s sold jewelry made from endangered elephant ivory, it would be illegal and unconscionable. The public relations problem would be a nightmare. The wood issue is no different. A multibillion dollar company has the resources to properly check its sources.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 3 months ago
This so-called “scandal” pales into insignificance when compared to the “thread bite pitch” scandal currently brewing. Watch your local news channels. “Thread bite pitch” is, as we all know, the bite, angle, pitch, and threads-per-inch (BAPTPI) of the screws and bolts we depend upon and use every day. Screw threads, the most sophisticated and useful application of one of the basic simple machines we all learned about in school – the inclined plane – is now embroiled in a worldwide industrial controversy regarding the origination of various widely-used BAPTPI. Hide the children! Again as we all know, screws and bolts are simply inclined planes machined or stamped around central cores – like straight staircases bent into circular staircases. But, who knows the origin of the breakthrough seventy-degree bite, 25% thread depth, twenty-degree pitch, forty-threads-per-inch machine bolt – AKA “the bolt that made Henry Ford famous?” Only those in Belarus, where it was designed because its citizens were so used to getting screwed. And what about the fifty-degree bite, 45% thread depth, forty-five degree pitch, ten… Read more »
Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

George’s suggestion seemed simple and to the point. Retailers and manufacturers are forever saying that customers should vote with their wallets. Well, the same thing should hold true for them. If there is any suspicion that the goods or raw materials they are using come from a dubious source then they should either do all they can to correct matters or find an alternative supplier, at least until they can be sure about what they are getting. It will not do their businesses any good at all in the long run if customers vote with their wallets because corporate buyers wouldn’t.

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