May 9, 2005

Desjardins Group Paper Challenge targets 15% drop in company paper use

The Quebec-based Desjardins Group marked Earth Day last month by launching a company-wide Paper Challenge, with the goal of reducing its consumption of printer and photocopier paper by at least 15%, while increasing its use of recycled paper by the same percentage over the next three years. The co-operative financial institution will begin rolling out its program within Quebec, extending it to the entire network of branches in 2006.

In Quebec alone, Desjardins' co-operatives, credit unions and subsidiaries consume no less than 100 million sheets of paper per year-the equivalent of 20,000 trees-even with the adoption of high-performance technologies and conscientious efforts to cut costs.

The objective of the Desjardins Paper Challenge is to create awareness among Desjardins employees, management and elected officers of their use of paper at work, especially with respect to printing E-mails and attachments, as well as colour printing.

The program includes a bilingual guide on the optimal use of paper, available on Desjardins' Web site, www.desjardins.com, It also involves the implementation of a printing charter including, among other things, the automation of the double-sided function on all photocopiers and an environment-friendly purchasing policy.

"The Desjardins Paper Challenge is a first concrete step originating from our sustainable development policy. It clearly shows our concern for the environment and represents an original way for us to actively participate in the 35th annual Earth Day," said Alban D'Amours, president and CEO of the Desjardins Group.

Another Earth Day project launched by Desjardins, in collaboration with Bell Canada and Hydro-QuÈbec, will bring together about 50 young business leaders in Quebec to begin a dialogue with the management of these three major organizations on the issues, challenges and business opportunities arising from the principles of sustainable development.

The Desjardins Group is the largest integrated co-operative financial group in Canada, with 5.5 million members and assets of more than $106 billion. It comprises a network of co-operatives, credit unions and corporate financial centres in Quebec and Ontario, plus about 20 subsidiary companies elsewhere in Canada providing life and general insurance, securities brokerage, venture capital and asset management.

Meanwhile, NorskeCanada's paper recycling division celebrated April as Earth Month by naming Metro Waste Paper Recovery its 2004 supplier of the year for recovered paper. The division presented the award to on April 29 in Victoria, where Metro was celebrating the grand opening of a new collection facility. In choosing its supplier of the year, NorskeCanada evaluates candidate firms on the basis of the quality of the paper they provide, their service efficiency and timely response, and their reliability and flexibility in shipping.

Metro, which also received the award in 2000 and 2002, provides 30,000 tonnes of old newspaper annually to the recycling division. Most of this paper comes from Metro's plants in Surrey, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Victoria. The paper is sent to the Coquitlam recycling facility where it is pulped, de-inked and used by NorskeCanada's mills to manufacture new paper products. About 425,000 tonnes of the paper products NorskeCanada manufactures every year contain some recycled fibre, with some grades containing as much as 40% recycled content.

Recycling division general manager Tom Fawcett said the award reflects NorskeCanada's commitment to continually improving the environmental performance of its products.

"Recycling paper close to home makes the most of resources that might otherwise be sent to landfills and it supports local economies," Fawcett said. "Metro consistently provides us with top-notch paper, and many municipalities such as the Capital Regional District make an important contribution to the quality of old paper through dual-stream recycling which separates paper from other waste products during collection."

More information is available from Lyn Brown at NorskeCanada, 604/654-4212.

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