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A ‘sustainable’ stamp of approval

Ashley Milne-Tyte May 16, 2007

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Today in New York, Goldman Sachs is hosting a gathering of companies who use local suppliers that hold something called a “sustainability certificate.” Suppliers — mostly farmers — have to follow rules that ensure they take care of the environment, and their workers. Ashley Milne-Tyte reports.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: The non-profit Rainforest Alliance does the certifying. Companies like Kraft, Chiquita and Nestle all use certified suppliers. Richard Reed is co-founder of European smoothie company Innocent. He buys 100 percent of that all-important smoothie ingredient — bananas — from certified farms.

RICHARD REED: We’re working with them about what other fruits — and the way that it’s grown — can we bring on to make sure that more of the fruit that we’re buy comes in in a way that generally has an eye to the bigger picture.

Rainforest Alliance head Tensie Whelan says to be certified, the local suppliers have to meet a long list of requirements, and sometimes make changes to their operations.

TENSIE WHELAN:Which would range from changing where they dump their garbage — which in many cases might be directly into the streams — to the housing that they have for the workers.

…to chemicals workers are exposed to. One recent triumph, she says: Publisher Scholastic is printing the final issue of the Harry Potter series on sustainable paper.

In New York, I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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