Net Impact today announced the finalist universities for a case competition with International Paper (NYSE: IP), a global leader in the paper and packaging industry, and Staples, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS), the world's largest office products company. The innovative collaboration between International Paper, Staples and Net Impact, teamed up MBA students from the Net Impact network to identify recycling solutions to help improve each company's environmental performance and bottom line. 'Our partnership with International Paper and Staples is a win-win,' said Liz Maw, Executive Director, Net Impact. 'While Net Impact student members are helping IP and Staples come together to uncover environmental opportunities, we are helping build environmentally responsible future business leaders.' From a pool of 10 teams, the three finalist universities selected to participate in a semester-long process are:
- Blekinge Institute of Technology (Karlskrona, Sweden)
- Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (New York City, N.Y.)
- University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business / School of Natural Resources & Environment (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
'Working with Net Impact and International Paper on this case competition is a way for Staples to leverage some of the world's top students to apply their business and process expertise to address an issue with significant environmental implications,' said Mark Buckley, vice president, environmental affairs, Staples. 'Through the environmentally preferable products and recycling services that we offer customers and our commitment to renewable energy and green construction, Staples is focused on positive change that truly makes a difference in the world.' The three finalist teams have been working since February with key leaders at International Paper and Staples, discussing questions and reviewing the progress of their strategic plans. The teams are in the process of submitting their final plans, which will be evaluated by a panel of judges. 'The collaborative partnership with a valued customer like Staples and Net Impact is just another step in our sustainability commitments,' said David Kiser, IP's vice president, environment, health, safety and sustainability. 'Exploring creative business solutions will help recover more renewable paper products and put them back to use. It will also support improving environmental footprints, sustaining socially responsible business practices, and increasing economic returns.' For the past 20 years, recovery rates for paper and paperboard packaging have delivered a year-over-year increase. The paper industry has worked hard to exceed a 60 percent recovery rate, and even more creative efforts could further this positive trend. The winning team will be announced in late June 2010 and will receive a US$5,000 cash prize, one-year passes to the national parks, and free registration with a travel stipend for the Net Impact Conference at the University of Michigan in November 2010 -- where the team will present its winning proposal. The other two finalist teams will receive US$1,000 each. About Net Impact Net Impact is a global organization of students and professionals using business to improve the world. We offer a portfolio of programs and initiatives to educate, equip and inspire more than 15,000 members to make a tangible difference through business. Spanning six continents, our membership is one of the most influential networks of students and professionals in existence today and includes current and emerging leaders in corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, international development and environmental sustainability. For more information, please visit www.netimpact.org. About International Paper International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a global paper and packaging company with manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Russia, Asia and North Africa. Its businesses include uncoated papers, industrial and consumer packaging and distribution. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., the company employs about 56,000 people in more than 20 countries and serves customers worldwide. 2009 net sales were more than US$23 billion. For more information about International Paper, its products and stewardship efforts, visit http://internationalpaper.com. About Staples Staples, the world's largest office products company is committed to making it easy for customers to buy a wide range of office products and services. Our broad selection of office supplies, electronics, technology and office furniture as well as business services, including computer repair and copying and printing, helps our customers run their offices efficiently. With 2009 sales of US$24 billion and 91,000 associates worldwide, Staples operates in 25 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia serving businesses of all sizes and consumers. Staples invented the office superstore concept in 1986 and today ranks second worldwide in e-commerce sales. The company is headquartered outside Boston.