Friday, August 31, 2007

Ribbon Cut at Controversial Pulp Mill's Port

Uruguayan President Tabare Vasquez participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony at a new shipping terminal in Fray Bentos on the Uruguay River to service the controversial, massive new pulp mill under construction. The terminal will unload wood and ship out cellulose from the pulp mill destined to be made into paper in the U.S., China, and Europe.

Most media was kept away for security reasons, and protestors with banners cruised the river to demonstrate opposition to the mill.

The $1.2 billion pulp mill being built by Oy-Metsa Botnia, with help from loans from the World Bank, is the largest ever foreign investment in Uruguay, and has been vigorously opposed by regional conservationists and the Argentina government. Argentina has said the pollution from the mill will jeopardize farming and tourism in the region and violates a key 1975 river treaty between the two nations.

Today, I found this site created by Botnia to document the construction of the mill, (with rose-colored glasses, of course) that gives some interesting images of the impact as it nears completion of construction.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

UPS Customers Use E-Billing As If The Earth Depended on It reports on recent research done by UPS on what motivates its customers to switch to e-billing. Over 40% of them, the largest percentage for any reason, said they were motivated because of environmental concerns.

Based on this feedback, UPS has announced a partnership with the National Arbor Day Foundation. UPS will make a $1 donation to the tree-planting organization for every customer who opts for the paperless PDF invoice. Also participating in a similar partnership with the Foundation to encourage e-billing is CitiGroup/Smith Barney.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dirty Toilet Paper Down Under

Treehugger has a great, pun-laden post about how Woolworth's, Australia's largest supermarket chain, has been exposed (aka "caught with its pants down") for labelling their self-branded toilet paper as environmentally beneficial without any credible certification to back it up. Turns out that Woolworths Select toilet paper is in fact sourced via Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), one of the world's largest pulp producers, whom the Indonesia's Centre for International Forestry Research recently reported rely on the clearing of natural forests in Sumatra for 60 to 70% of their wood supply, and does not carry any certification from the Forest Stewardship Council.

ABC stories also here and here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Paper and Environment on National Public Radio (US)

Listen to this morning's Morning Edition story on NPR about Xerox's new High Yield Business Paper, and environmental issues associated with paper production. Features a quote from Tyson Miller of the Green Press Initiative, noting this new paper as a positive choice, but urging Xerox and others to do more to incorporate recycled paper and sustainable forestry.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

E-Banking: Not Just Saving Trees

A recent issue of Scientific American highlights the benefits of online bill paying and e-banking. Not only do you cut down on paper usage and save trees but you also reduce the usage of energy and resources to make, ship and discard the paper.

You can read the full story here.

Thanks to the blog, One Shade Greener for bringing this story to our attention.

Greenpeace Names Names in Boreal

A Greenpeace investigative report released yesterday reveals the names of many high profile and recognizable international companies fueling the destruction of Canada's Boreal Forest to create everyday consumer products.

Among the 35 companies listed in Consuming Canada's Boreal Forest, are Best Buy, Grand & Toy, Toys "R" Us, Time Inc., Sears, Coles/Indigo, Penguin Books US and Harlequin. Rona, the Canadian home improvement and hardware store, is also named in the report.

Each company is profiled as a customer of logging and pulp companies Abitibi-Consolidated, Bowater, Kruger and SFK Pulp, whose destructive logging practices, according to the report, are responsible for decimating nearly 200,000 km2 of Boreal Forest, or 3.5 times the size of Nova Scotia.

"Today, we're naming names," said Kim Fry, a forest campaigner with Greenpeace-Canada. "The logging companies and customers featured in this report are driving the destruction of Canada's Boreal Forest."

Even Paris Hilton Gets It

Ecorazzi and others are reporting General Electric NBC Universal, as part of its Green is Universal project has announced that for the week of Nov. 4-10, green themes will be found in such shows as “The Office,” “My Name Is Earl,” “30 Rock,” “Heroes” and “Deal or No Deal,” plus in news offers, including “Today,” “Nightly News,” “Dateline” and on MSNBC and

“‘We will have every single one of our prime-time shows with storylines themed to green with our characters … being agents of change and being proactive, positive, green members of our going-green society,’ said Ben Silverman, co-chairman of NBC Entertainment. “We will also have our late-night [and daytime] shows engaged.’”

“We’re [about] a paper company,” John Krasinski of The Office cracked. “We’re going to get hammered.”

That should be interesting. Maybe for that episode they should hire media-savvy forest and paper advocates ForestEthics to advise them as technical experts. Recently they've been spotted on the "green carpet" at celebrity loaded shindigs for Leonardo DiCaprio's film, The 11th Hour, which includes footage of interviews with Tzeporah Berman of the non-profit about the importance of forest protection to solving the global climate crisis. They are using the attention to call on catalog companies to adopt more responsible paper purchasing practices that lead to forest and climate protection.

Update: Ecorazzi interview after the event with Tzeporah Berman.

Photo: What's In Your Paper Paris?: Tzeporah Berman of ForestEthics, with Paris Hilton.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Update: IP's statement

In response to an inquiry from The Paper Planet, IP has provided the following statement regarding the environmental implications of their venture with Ilim:

International Paper contributes to the shape of forests around the world, so we strive to ensure the protection of this important natural resource.

We use no fiber from endangered forests, and are strongly committed to third-party certification of forestlands we own or lease. As part of the joint venture, we will continue these practices in combination with Ilim's existing leadership of sustainable forestry in Russia. Ilim has been a leader in FSC forest certification in Russia, was active in the development of the Russian Forest Code, and has developed initiatives to combat illegal logging.
That's the whole thing. Hmmm.... Feeling reassurred? Feeling doubting? Holding evidence one way or the other? Comments? Post them here...

Will The Iliam Group Be the Same-Old Forest Industry?

One of the world’s largest paper products companies, International Paper, is teaming up with the owner of Russia’s largest paper mills, Iliam Holdings S.A., to log the Russian Boreal, or Taiga, for paper.

International Paper Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Faraci said. "Ilim has continued to strengthen its operations and substantially improve its profitability, and we're investing at a good multiple and expect attractive returns. As we continue to transform International Paper, focusing on our global uncoated paper and packaging businesses, the joint venture with Ilim positions us very well within low- cost, high-growth markets in Russia and Asia."

The $650 million deal between International Paper and Ilim Holdings S.A. to form Ilim Group was just announced, and the companies’ emphasis was on upgrading facilities, increasing production, developing new products, in order to increase returns to investors.

As the Daily Green notes, no mention in the press release about environmental responsibility or commitments to include clean technologies as a part of the "upgrades." But in order to compete in the new global marketplace with some of the best growth in environmentally improved paper products, they will inevitably need to reckon with such issues. The question is, will it be greenwashing or will it be real?

International Paper has recently indicated positive movement, announcing it would pursue Forest Stewardship Council certification for some of its operations, but the company still carries one of the world's most dubious environmental reputations among paper companies so this announcement is being greeted with trepidation by conservationists. And boardroom level decisions such as this spells disaster for small, local, forest dependent communities in the Russian Taiga. Perhaps, however, at a juncture such as this, there is an opportunity for International Paper to design sustainability into the fabric of its business plan. With tools available such as Google Earth, a sympatheic, educated consumer market, and a strong international conservation movement to instantly notify the world, there are significant business risks associated with poor corporate responsibility such as a failure to embrace clean energy technologies, cleaner bleaching technologies and credible forestry certification.

So perhaps there is an opportunity here. So IP, what's it gonna be?

Friday, August 17, 2007

New "Field Guide" to Eco-friendly, Efficient and Effective Print

Monadnock Paper Mills has announced the release of the second edition of its acclaimed instructional how-to guide for creating more sustainable print materials. The publication, A Field Guide: Eco-Friendly, Efficient and Effective Print is intended to be a single resource that presents objective information and points out alternatives for design decisions that support sustainability without sacrificing style and impact.

New information in the second edition of A Field Guide includes a full chapter dedicated to packaging, an expanded section on energy and emissions, and an overview of the various environmental programs, logos, and terminology that many paper mills use in their product literature today.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Apple and AT&T Team Up to Bring You Forest Destruction

Technology is supposed to make life easier, right? Well in the case of Apple's new iPhone which is the buzz of the techno-geek world right now, it may make browsing the internet better and really be an amazing all in one package, but one thing they certainly did not get right was the billing.

When you sign-up for the iPhone you have to use AT&T and people have been reporting huge stacks of paper in their bills detailing every data transfer, call, and txt that you sent. At first I thought this couldn't be so bad, then I saw this.

300 pages? Are you kidding me? I thought it was a joke until I read all the comments on gizmodo about it and found that she is not alone... come on Apple and AT&T, you can do better!

Friday, August 10, 2007

New York Times Shrinks

NPR reports on the New York Times' shift this week to a format which is 10% smaller than its previous format, expected to save $10 million/year in paper costs, and reduce its environmental impact. The change brings "the newspaper of record" in line with the industry trend.

Smart move. Let's hope the next step is to take a hard look at what forests the remaining virgin fiber content is coming from.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

New Movie: Too Precious to Pulp?

Tasmania's Clean Green Future: Too Precious to Pulp? (Part 1 : Part 2 : Total 17 minutes) systematically outlines the impact Gunns' proposed pulp mill will have on the future of Tasmania, and its environment, economy and community. The film was made by award winning filmmaker Heidi Douglas.

"Just as the film An Inconvenient Truth exposed climate change to community at large, this film will enlighten audiences who are confused about the issues behind the dispute over the proposed pulp mill", she says.

"This new film represents a courageous move by Heidi, a filmmaker who is already being sued by Gunns for half a million dollars for documenting the Tasmanian forest campaign," Geoff Law campaign coordinator for The Wilderness Society said.

I recommend starting your download, stepping away to fix yourself your beverage of choice, and preparing yourself for an emotional roller coaster ride from awe, to disbelief, to anger, to empowered hope. And if you're a visually oriented person like me, the graphics are fantastic and make complicated issues simple and clear.

For more information on this issue visit

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Judge stops SFI "certified" loggers

Weyerhaeuser, the massive logging, paper and wood products company, has been injoined to stop logging in endangered species habitat in the state of Washington.

Weyerhaeuser is certified by the so-called Sustainable Forestry Initiative. The SFI is a marketing program devised by and dominated by industry to greenwash the forest products industry in the US. More on that effort here. That a federal judge has to step in to stop logging by a supposedly certified company in endangered species habitat demonstrates, I think pretty clearly, the extremely low bar, or non-existence of a bar, of sustainability demanded by this program.

From this day let it be known: if you buy SFI, you don't know what in the world you are getting, and there's at least a decent chance it will be from unsustainable logging.

RAN's Understory blog has a good post on other current challenges to the SFI in Washington and Maine.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

New Report: Banks, Pulp, and People

"The aim of our report is to inform financial institutions about the impacts and risks of upcoming pulp investments before decisions are made and contracts are signed", says Heffa Schücking, director of the German environment and human-rights organization Urgewald.

Over the next five years, the global pulp industry is planning to increase its production capacity by more than 25 million tonnes. This capacity increase is unprecedented and would mean a five-fold increase, when compared to the growth rates of the last decade. More importantly, it would mean a dramatic increase in the problems that the pulp sector is already causing for people and the environment in producer countries.

"Pulp mills and the industrial tree plantations that feed them have become increasingly controversial", says Chris Lang, the author of the report Banks, Pulp and People – A Primer on Upcoming International Pulp Projects. "The vast areas of monocultures required to feed modern mills have severe impacts on biodiversity, forests, water, land rights and livelihoods. And pulp mills themselves are among the most polluting industrial facilities, with grave consequences for the health of local communities and riverine ecosystems. Its no wonder, that in country after country, local people and environmental organizations have taken to the streets to protest against these developments", he adds.

The bulk of new expansions are slated to take place in only a few countries: Uruguay, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, China and Russia. The report gives a detailed description of the impacts of the industry in these countries as well as analyzing the track records of the involved companies.

In order to hold the financiers of the pulp industry accountable, Urgewald has also set up a new website, It documents the problems caused by the pulp industry's operations and informs the public, financiers and decision makers regularly about upcoming problematic projects.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Finished Harry Potter, Finally Have Time for Posting Again

Don't worry, no spoilers here. This story is well known by now, Harry Potter 7, The Deathly Hallows, was the "greenest book in history". So the Paper Planet had to get a post up about it...even if it is a little late. Go straight to the source of J.K. Rowling's inspiration, at, for the real scoop. Grist does a pretty good job with it too and has links to news articles. Bloggers and reporters, get a press kit here.

It just so happened, that SouthernQ and I were visiting people and forests in Tofino, British Columbia on the day of the big release, and were able to score a couple fresh Ancient Forest Friendly, 100% post-consumer recycled paper Harry Potters, published by Raincoast. They look beautiful, and sport a valuable, and sharp-looking, "Ancient Forest Friendly" logo! It was especially meaningful to purchase them in the town where Markets Initiative, in a teeny office at the end of the earth, first launched the effort to facilitate an environmentally responsible book industry in order to save ancient, old-growth forests.

In Tofino today, the Friends of Clayoquot Sound are doing tremendous work to protect the ancient temperate rainforests (and still in that office mentioned earlier). Visit their website to learn more about their work and the spectacular forests that helped play a role in inspiring the now global movement to shift markets to transform the paper industry. With successful examples like Harry Potter, there is hope for places like the priceless, ancient forests of Clayoquot Sound.