At the opening of the Paper World business fair in Frankfurt, Papierwende and the European Environmental Paper Network (EEPN) are calling on the paper industry to stop dealing with paper linked to deforestation in Indonesia and elsewhere. They highlight the reputational risks to brands of being associated with destructive forest practices and social conflicts.
Among the exhibitors at Paper World is Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), one of the world’s most controversial pulp and paper companies. APP is estimated to have pulped more than two million hectares of natural forests in Sumatra, Indonesia, where it is reported to be planning a new pulp mill with a production capacity up to 2.0 million tonnes per year of bleached hardwood pulp. This would be the largest single pulp line in the world and would dramatically increase APP’s need for wood fibres.
Sergio Baffoni, of the EEPN, said “The rapid expansion of pulpwood monocultures is wiping away Sumatra's natural rainforest – much of which grows on carbon-rich peatlands. This deforestation releases huge quantities of greenhouse gases, contributing significantly to the position of Indonesia as the world's third largest global greenhouse gas emitter, behind the USA and China.”
A recent report released by the Indonesian environmentalist coalition Eyes on the Forest exposes the impacts of APP logging operations in the Senepis tiger habitat - an area that the company promised to protect, but which it is now clear-cutting. Forced out of their home forests, tigers approach human settlements, with dramatic consequences for both humans and animals. Eyes on the Forest investigated 14 human-tiger conflict incidences, which left 9 people and 3 tigers dead, injured 7 people and removed one tiger from the wild. APP claims to have a cutting-edge policy in tiger conservation, but in reality it is clearing one of the last habitats of the Sumatran tiger, an animal already close to extinction.
"The last rainforests are wiped away to produce paper that ends up in the trash bin within the first day of use. This is not a sustainable path," said Monika Nolle of Papierwende. "Paper World should show leadership, by promoting technologies to increase efficiency and curb paper overconsumption."
More than 40 European NGOs have signed a letter to the business community demanding they neither purchase any APP products, whether from Indonesia or China, nor provide other technical support, consultancy or financial services to APP associated companies. "Buying paper products linked to rainforest destruction in Indonesia poses significant reputational risks, linking brand names to deforestation practices, community conflicts and climate change," said Sergio Baffoni.
Many company high-profile brands (including Office Depot, Hasbro, Mattel, Unilever, Nestle, Gucci, Versace, Danone, Xerox, Mondi, Staples, Carrefour, Tesco and Disney) have already distanced themselves from APP, as a result of concerns about its links to deforestation and social conflict.