Columbia Forest Products was named a 2010 Corporate Sustainable Standard-Setter by the Rainforest Alliance at the organization’s gala dinner and awards ceremony in New York City. The honor recognizes companies that have worked with the Rainforest Alliance and exhibited outstanding leadership in efforts to promote sustainability.

Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance, said “Columbia Forest Products is one of those companies that truly understands the principles of sustainability, integrating them into the core of its business practices. We consider the company to be a leader in its field.”

Columbia is North America’s leading producer of decorative veneer and hardwood plywood – an essential building block of cabinetry, furniture and millwork. The company is employee-owned and headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Columbia has built a 50+ year record of responsible forestry practices, crowned by its relationship with the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood™ certification program which began over a decade ago. Today, they manage a distributor channel with over 100 locations offering FSC-Certified hardwood plywood to local and regional woodworking businesses.

Columbia’s efforts reach back into the woods as well – where its team of foresters works with private landowners – often writing forest management plans that ensure the long-term sustainability of their timber assets while enabling them to harvest defined amounts over time.

The company has also been recognized for the way they produce their hardwood plywood. In 2007, they received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Presidential Green Chemistry Award for the PureBond® formaldehyde-free technology they use to bond their plywood together.

Formaldehyde has come under intense scrutiny by the architectural community, state and federal regulators, and the general public as a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) that contributes to poor indoor air quality and perhaps some forms of cancer.
The company has produced and shipped over 40 million PureBond plywood panels since they converted their seven mills away from the industry’s traditional urea formaldehyde resin systems in favor of the proven, cost-neutral PureBond alternative.

Now, Columbia is taking steps to make it easy for homeowners and members of the building trades to access quality-made finished goods produced with PureBond plywood. It has recruited over 800 cabinet shops, furniture makers and other woodworkers into the PureBond Fabricator Network, and launched a searchable directory on their website:

Columbia’s affordable hardwood plywood with PureBond formaldehyde-free technology is also available through over 1,900 Home Depot locations throughout the US and Canada.

Brad Thompson, Columbia’s Chief Executive Officer, said that “the 2,000 people at Columbia have long enjoyed the benefits of employee ownership – which includes being able to make important, long-term decisions about the company’s direction. I’m proud to say that we’ve come down on the side of sustainability and health with every significant choice we’ve made.

“We appreciate being named a Corporate Sustainable Standard-Setter, and look forward to an even deeper working relationship with the Rainforest Alliance and its continued vigilance over responsible forestry practices around the world,” he added.

About Columbia Forest Products

Founded in 1957, Columbia Forest Products is North America’s largest manufacturer of hardwood plywood and hardwood veneer, a leader in sustainable forestry, and innovator of formaldehyde-free PureBond® technology.

Columbia’s decorative interior veneers and panels are used in cabinetry, furniture, architectural millwork and commercial fixtures. Employee-owned and based in Greensboro, North Carolina, Columbia employs more than 2,000 and operates facilities throughout the United States and Canada, and an operational network which spans the globe.

About the Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance, a nonprofit international conservation organization, was instrumental in the founding of the FSC in 1993. It is the world’s leading certifier of forestlands to FSC standards, which is considered the gold standard of well-managed forest certification. In addition to certification, the Rainforest Alliance verifies legality of timber, analyzes supply chains for risk, designs and implements procurement policies and helps communicate partner successes. The organization also has programs in sustainable agriculture, tourism and climate change.

Source: Columbia Forest Products

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