Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dogwood Alliance on IP's FSC Chain of Custody Announcment

The US conservation group Dogwood Alliance, the leader in southern US forest protection, has issued a statement regarding International Paper's announcement regarding FSC Chain of Custody certification.

It begins...

This week, IP announced Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody certification at a number of its mills in the US claiming “the largest FSC manufacturing platform across the globe.” Contrary to SFI, FSC is the only forest products certification system in existence today that is supported by the broader conservation community, including Dogwood Alliance. It is the only certification system that provides meaningful protection for endangered forests and restrictions on the conversion of natural forests to plantations, large-scale clearcutting and the use of chemicals in plantations.

So, has IP seen the light or is this just another attempt at greenwashing?

Read more....

Support For Bill Needed to Save Paper Recycling

Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, from the 1st District of Arizona, has introduced a bill to close the "black liquor loophole" costing taxpayers billions of dollars. Since early this year paper companies have been raking in billions of dollars by claiming 50 cents/gallon of "black liquor," a partly organic, mostly solid sludge created in the chemical pulping process, and which is burned to help power their mills which use virgin wood fiber.

The goof by Congress picked up on by paper companies has resulted in a and a trade war between the US and Canada (WSJ calls it the "Black Liquor War") and is driving out recycled papermaking jobs. This bill intends to level the playing field and help save recycled paper mills and support their workers.

The release says:

"In addition to costing taxpayers billions, the credit creates an uneven playing field by placing companies that make recycled paper at a competitive disadvantage, because their process does not produce black liquor. Closing the loophole will save recycled paper mills and keep employees in those mills working."

Since 2006, Catalyst's mill in Snowflake, Arizona has been forced to lay off more than one hundred people – about one-quarter of its workforce. The mill is a leading employer in Navajo County, and a shutdown would leave its 324 remaining workers unemployed.

Rep. Kirkpatrick’s legislation would close the tax loophole as soon as the bill is signed into law. Ending the tax break as late as October 1 would save taxpayers an estimated $750 million this year. But with jobs in her district at risk and our budget deficit growing steadily, Rep. Kirkpatrick intends to stop the subsidy as soon as possible.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Mesa, Arizona), a noted advocate for fiscal responsibility, is an original co-sponsor for the bill.

“The federal government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in the economy, and that’s precisely what the black liquor tax credit loophole has done,” said Rep. Flake. “It has put some paper mills at a disadvantage, has complicated our trade obligations with Canada, and has been an enormous waste of federal money. The black liquor tax credit needs to be repealed immediately.”

Read the whole press release here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Canada: Globe and Mail Gets with Responsible Paper

The Globe and Mail announced Wednesday a new procurement policy for newsprint and other papers, requiring its paper suppliers to be environmentally responsible.

“The Globe’s policy commits to practices that will eliminate the use of papers derived from high conservation value forests, supporting key environmental and climate impacts in the newspaper publishing sector,” said Phillip Crawley, The Globe and Mail’s Publisher and CEO. “We’re proud to be at the forefront in our industry in helping to safeguard and protect the world and Canada’s forests and climate.”

The policy involves The Globe’s commitment to:
• reduce the use of fibre from ancient and endangered forests, such as the Canadian Boreal Forests; Temperate Rainforests of British Columbia, Alaska and Chile; and the Tropical Rainforests of Indonesia and the Amazon;
• progressively maximize recycled content in all of its papers by working with suppliers to establish interval benchmarks for post-consumer recycled content;
• support a preference for virgin wood fibre certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, an independent, non-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests;
• actively encourage suppliers to eliminate the production of persistent organic pollutants or chlorine bleach;
• explore the use of non-wood agricultural residues;
• implement and expand internal business processes that will reduce paper use and encourage maximized paper recycling.

“Now, more than ever, newspapers need to show environmental leadership and innovation,” said Nicole Rycroft from leading environmental publishing advocates, Canopy. “And as the first major North American daily national newspaper to develop an Ancient Forest Friendly policy, The Globe is showing how it's done."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Canada Makes Its Black Liquor Move

Canadian Pulp and Paper producers who invest in "improved energy efficiency and environmental performance" may qualify for funding from a new, $1-billion Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program, Minister of Natural Resources Lisa Raitt announced today.

The Green Transformation Program intends to provide funding of $0.16 (Canadian) per litre of black liquor, up to a maximum program total of $1 billion. (about 53 US cents/gallon). Black liquor is a liquid by-product of the chemical pulping process used to generate renewable heat and power. Eligible companies participating in the Green Transformation Program will be required to invest these funds over the next three years in capital expenditures that make improvements to energy efficiency or environmental performance on any pulp and paper mill in Canada, including mechanical mills.

“By making a smart investment today, we are laying the groundwork for a greener, more secure future for the pulp and paper sector and the people who work in it,” Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt (pictured) said in making the announcement in Ottawa.

Details of what "improvements to energy efficiency or environmental performance" exactly means, but at least this approach is more intentional, transparent, and suggests investment in the industry that will provide long term benefits. This is contrast to the process in the US: backdoor, sneaky, no strings attached, and extremely dubious qualification for a payment for burning black liquor sludge in the United States.

Last week two senior US Senators proposed draft legislation to close the loophole in the United States.

Today's announcement also said the Government of Canada is providing $170 million over two years under Canada's Economic Action Plan to help companies develop new products and processes and capitalize on new market opportunities internationally. Could this be recycled products, agriculture residue papers, and totally chlorine free bleached papers?

Photo Credit: Chris Wattie, Reuters files

Saturday, June 13, 2009

US Senate Leaders Join Obama and EPN in Seeking to Close Black Liquor Loophole

Bloomberg reported yesterday that US Senators Max Baucus (Democrat-Montana) and Charles Grassley (Republican-Iowa), have introduced legislation to close the black liquor loophole that is costing taxpayers billions of dollars, decreasing efficiency at US pulp mills, and threatening the demise of the US recycled paper industry.

Though some from the industry are being very misleading about the original intent of this alternative fuels tax credit, Senator Baucus is factually correct, “This credit was not meant to provide a boon to companies for a process they’ve already been doing for several decades,” Baucus said.

Meanwhile, Domtar is playing games with its workers, encouraging them to rally and lobby against he loophole in Canada, and urging them to rally and lobby for it in the United States. Their ideal outcome: A nice big handout from BOTH the US and Canada. The losers: all of us, including the workers, as this temporary financial bailout will not do anything to ensure that long term failures of the industry to be competitive are resolved and that the industry in unprepared for the coming low-carbon economy. Next year, without another miracle and/or corporate welfare from the state, it will be another crisis and more massive layoffs.

Vision from the Boreal Released by Greenpeace Canada

Greenpeace released a new vision for Canada’s Boreal forest on June 10th that will reinvigorate northern forest communities, improve the struggling forest economy and create new jobs while protecting the health and integrity of forests for future generations. Also this week, Time magazine featured the issue of tissue paper sourced from old-growth forests in the Canadian Boreal and Greenpeace's campaign against the current practices of Kimberly-Clark/Kleenex brand.

The document, Greenpeace’s Vision for a New Conservation Based Forest Economy in Canada’s Boreal Forest, is an innovative look at how forest communities, industry and environmental groups can work together to protect forest integrity and help the forest sector, whose troubles have driven northern communities to brink of collapse.

“Canada needs a new vision for its Boreal Forest and needs it now,” said Kim Fry, Greenpeace forest campaigner. “Ontario’s forest communities have been struggling since long before the current economic crisis. Our vision shows how with the right political leadership, forest industry initiative and community support, we can act immediately to save our forests and strengthen our economy.”

The new Greenpeace vision comes after a week of mass cross-country protests from Canada’s forestry workers who demanded provincial and federal action to stop the years of mill closures and job losses. Through the vision the forest industry and workers would work together to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and most importantly, forest sustainability.

Highlights of the vision include:

  • Increased community control over surrounding forest areas,
  • Strict adherence to Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC) standards to ensure Industrial practices protect the fragile biodiversity of Canada’s Boreal Forest,
  • Shift towards value added forestry products as well as economic diversification, and
  • More community input and involvement in political policy for the Boreal Forest.

“There is a real opportunity for forestry workers and environmentalists to come together and build good, long-term, sustainable jobs,” said Fry. “With the right vision, political leadership and resources, it is possible to build a sustainable forest economy now so that our children inherit forests that are healthy and intact in the future.”

Update on Gunns Pulp Mill in Tasmania

A dispatch from The Wilderness Society Australia....

Gunns has taken its search for a joint partner for the native forest-destroying pulp mill international.


Australia's largest woodchipping company has said it intends to make an announcement on who will be the joint venture partner for the pulp mill this month.

We now know that Swedish pulp and paper company Södra is considering becoming a partner with Gunns Ltd to build its controversial mill.

Together we helped ensure Gunns' own banker, ANZ, wouldn't fund the pulp mill.

Now we need to take urgent action to make sure Södra doesn't sign off on the destruction of Tasmania's world-class, carbon-rich native forests.

Send a message now to tell Sodra's CEO - Mr Leif Brodén - that Tasmania's world-class, carbon-rich forests are a global treasure.

Any organisation considering being involved in Gunns' pulp mill needs to be aware that they will be supporting a project which is opposed by the majority of Australians, as well as people around the world who want a safe climate and a healthy environment.

We urgently need to get as many messages to Mr Brodén as possible to ensure he understands this is the most strongly opposed project in Australia.

Act now: http://www.wilderness.org.au/stopmillfunding

And a response from Sodra.....


Swedish pulp and paper company Södra has released a statement on Gunns’ proposed pulp mill. The Wilderness Society welcomed Södra’s commitment to only consider a 100% percent Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified plantation based mill that used totally chlorine free technology (TCF) and continued to call for an alternative site to be full assessed.

“We welcome Södra’s commitment to only consider a 100% percent FSC certified, plantation based mill, that uses totally chlorine free technology (TCF), this is a clear improvement on Gunns’ environmentally destrucitvie proposal,” said Paul Oosting, pulp mill campaigner for The Wilderness Society.

“This will mean no native forests being used for pulping or to burn to generate power as part of the pulp mill,” said Mr. Oosting. “Gunns need to go back to the drawing board if they are to have any relationship with Södra.”

“If Södra are to continue to consider Gunns’ pulp mill project despite it not meeting any of the three criteria they have set then they also must fully assess alternative locations as the Tamar Valley is totally unacceptable,” said Mr Oosting.

Södra’s statement[1], released overnight says:

“If Södra is to engage in any pulp mill project, our high environmental standards have to be met. These standards includes among other things FSC certification and environmentally friendly bleaching technology (TCF preferred). TCF means totally chlorine free. Involvement in any project in the southern hemisphere would require 100 per cent plantation forest to be used.”

“This is a step in the right direction, but more will need to be done if a pulp mill in Tasmania is to be considered by Södra. The livelihoods and health of families in the Tamar Valley and Aboriginal heritage and values on the site make Gunns’ current location totally unacceptable,” concluded Mr Oosting.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Action at Andritz in Vienna on Behalf of Tasmanian Forests

The campaign against Gunns' proposed Tasmania pulp mill moved to Austria on Thursday as Greenpeace and local N.G.O. ECA Watch Austria transformed the headquarters of the Austrian company Andritz into a tree-eating monster, pointing to the significant role Andritz will play in destroying some of the world’s last high conservation value forests.

“International efforts to stop Gunns’ pulp mill being built are ramping up. Greenpeace believes it is crucial to support the campaign to prevent Tasmania’s carbon rich forests from being destroyed,” said Greenpeace Head of Campaigns, Steve Campbell.

“The worlds forests are critical in our fight to combat climate change - any company that gets involved in a project like Gunns’ pulp mill will face huge public opposition around the globe,” said Mr Campbell.

The Austrian Export Credit Agency OeKB - which is currently assessing whether or not to be part of the funding for the pulp mill - was also targeted at the action. In July 2008, The Wilderness Society of Australia, Greenpeace Austria and ECA Watch Austria met with OeKB to inform them of the proposed pulp mills impacts.

“Any organisation considering being involved in Gunns’ pulp mill needs to be aware that they will be supporting a project which is opposed by the majority of Australians, as well as people around the world who want a safe climate and a healthy environment,” said Paul Oosting pulp mill campaigner for The Wilderness Society.

More info

photo: copyright Greenpeace/Prinz Kurt