Policy Statement

The National Geographic Society is committed to being a socially responsible organization. We strive to operate sustainably and to provide feedback to the industry related to the benchmarks that we have established with our key suppliers.

That commitment is our assurance to our customers and members that we provide our products and services in a manner that is consistent with the sustainable use of our resources. Those who supply paper to National Geographic must demonstrate that the wood fiber used in paper manufacturing comes from sustainably managed sources and is produced using environmentally preferable technologies and processes.

By providing a clear and well-articulated policy requiring our paper suppliers to document their performance, and by establishing measurable objectives, we, in turn, can assure our customers that the products they purchase from us are made sustainably, using best practices.


The purpose of this policy is to ensure that producers who supply paper and other forest products to National Geographic demonstrate that the wood fiber they use in paper manufacturing comes from forestry sources that are managed in a sustainable manner and are produced using environmentally sound practices and processes. Only suppliers who meet National Geographic’s requirements in this area will be considered as business partners.


National Geographic strongly supports the recycling of all paper products. We are committed to recycling all waste, and we actively promote the recycling of our products by our members and customers. We are committed to using recycled-content products where doing so makes environmental and economic sense (packaging, tissue, cartons, binders, board, etc.).

National Geographic also fully supports and promotes the practice of recycling, wherever possible, other products that the Society consumes, in the most practical and safe manner, and we actively promote the use of recycled materials in our operations.

Clean Manufacturing Process

National Geographic will select supply partners who demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement in source reduction and pollution prevention that meets or exceeds legal requirements, so as to minimize the environmental impact of paper production on water, air and climate. We encourage our suppliers to pursue energy conservation, to increase the utilization of renewable energy sources, to engage in conservation of electricity and to maximize their energy efficiency. For products that require bleaching and brightening, we will show preference to suppliers that utilize processes that are environmentally responsible. The suppliers must comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws, regulations and guidelines.

All paper sourced from North American paper mills must be elemental chlorine free. The supplier is responsible for documenting its conformity with this requirement.

We also require continuous improvement for key indicators of water quality, water use and air emissions, including greenhouse gases. We require our suppliers to measure and document such improvements by providing a written report annually.


National Geographic fully supports independent standards and third-party independent verification as a means of measuring supplier performance. The goal is to have National Geographic’s key paper suppliers provide 60 percent of their fiber sourcing certified by at least one of the following sources: FSC, SFI, CSA or PEFC. No paper may be sourced from forests generally accepted as being of high conservation value.

Credible Reporting and Verification

Paper suppliers must make available to National Geographic, on an annual basis, a report that highlights their progress towards waste minimization, sustainable forestry practices, clean manufacturing practices and chain-of-custody compliance. As part of this requirement, all processes and data must be independently verified by a third-party audit.

Economic Viability

The desired outcome of our policy is continuous improvement in the environmental impact of the paper industry. Our goal is to have a sufficient supply of sustainably produced paper on the market to meet our needs. A full, comprehensive and periodic review will be conducted by National Geographic’s senior production and purchasing staff to ensure that the products covered under this policy are being produced sustainably, while not jeopardizing the delivery of finished products.

Continuous Improvement

National Geographic recognizes that responsible environmental stewardship is a continuous process. We will engage our paper suppliers in an ongoing dialogue to monitor their performance and to remain informed about opportunities to become increasingly sustainable. National Geographic further challenges our partners to develop new grades of quality paper that offer products that meet the highest environmental standards suitable for use in our products. To this end, National Geographic will give preference to companies that practice and encourage sustainable forest management, that run lower carbon-emitting operations and that strive for continuous improvement in their operations.

Explanation of Terms


An extensive, uninterrupted, naturally occurring stand, most commonly marked by a mix of species and range of ages of trees and undergrowth. It is a bio-diverse ecosystem able to sustain a variety of both simple and complex flora and fauna in a constantly self-renewing cycle. It is comprised of all ages of plants and animals, including decomposing flora and fauna, which together constitute and contribute to the biomass needed to nurture regeneration.

Sustainable Forestry

Managing forest harvesting in such a way as to allow a forest to replace itself with the full range of native species, to maturity, over a specified area so as to have a continuous yield of mature trees on an ongoing basis and at a constant rate. In order for forestry to be truly sustainable, enough new trees need to be planted so that enough mature trees are available to meet the demands of the world’s growing population.

The goal of forest regeneration must be to replicate what is burned or harvested over time. The regeneration of a forest ecosystem should be achieved, where possible, by natural processes, such as self seeding and preservation of a critical number of original native species, or through the use of accepted forest management techniques, thereby allowing for the complete natural regeneration of an original forest ecosystem to full maturity of all species.

Tree Farms

National Geographic recognizes the important role and value of tree farming and the growing of trees as a source of timber and paper fiber. However, we do not consider a single-species monoculture planted for the specific purpose of being a fiber or timber crop and managed to eliminate all other competing species through the use of pesticides, herbicides and under-story burning to be a forest ecosystem. Such plantations are characterized by the lack of under-story or secondary species, and do not support a full range of flora and fauna typical for a forest setting at a given latitude or altitude. Furthermore, such a crop stand does not provide the essential water-purification function of a forest, so while it provides for essential fiber production, it is not a forest and should not be counted as a forest.