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Team from Sweden's Blekinge Institute of Technology Wins

Top MBA Students Competed to Uncover Recycling Solutions

Team from Sweden's Blekinge Institute of Technology Wins

Top MBA Students Competed to Uncover Recycling Solutions

Published 07-20-10

Submitted by Net Impact

Net Impact announced the winner 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. After a competitive application process, three finalist teams created strategic plans for recovering more paper and packaging from underserved markets, including large, multi-tenant locations, company campuses and universities. Students from Blekinge Institute of Technology, located in Karlskrona, Sweden, submitted the winning strategic plan. The other finalist teams included Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, and University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business and its School of Natural Resources & Environment.

"We were very impressed by the high caliber work of all teams," said Liz Maw, executive director, Net Impact. "It's exciting to see bright students working together with today's corporate leaders to find significant environmental opportunities through the recovery of more paper and packaging."

Since February, the three finalist teams have been working with key leaders at International Paper and Staples to answer questions and review the progress of their strategic plans. The Blekinge team proposed solutions for increasing the efficiency of paper recovery, branding the program, and communicating real-time recovery rates for the companies.

"The competition was a great way to practically apply the theories, frameworks, and methodologies of our Master's program in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability," said Lea Thuot, a student at the Blekinge Institute of Technology and member of the winning team. "The program we presented to International Paper and Staples should allow them to increase paper recycling in the U.S. and assist the paper industry to meet future targets for paper recovery."

The competition is a great example of effective cross-sector collaboration. International Paper and Staples were able to leverage the business expertise of top students in the Net Impact network.

"The student teams demonstrated great ideas in their proposed recycling plans," said Mark Buckley, vice president, Environmental Affairs, Staples. "It's this type of thinking that will help improve paper and packaging material recycling in the future."

"The students were quick studies of the challenges and opportunities for recycling in our industry," said David Kiser, IP's vice president, Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability. "Their proposal identified creative tools to track, monitor, and promote a successful program."

Staples and International Paper are currently considering ways to integrate elements of the Blekinge team's plan into their existing program to recover more renewable paper products and put them back to use.

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

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 $23 billion. For more information about International Paper, its products and stewardship efforts, visit

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 $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. More information about Staples is available at

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Net Impact

Net Impact

Net Impact is a global nonprofit inspiring a new generation to use their careers to tackle the world’s toughest social and environmental problems. We empower student and professional leaders to act locally through our vibrant chapter network and connect globally online and through our flagship conference. By 2020, we will mobilize a million new leaders to drive positive change in the workplace and the world. For more information, please visit

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