Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Eagle Ridge Paper: US and Canadian Conservationists Send a Message to the Marketplace

A group of some of the largest and most respected environmental groups in North America will distribute a letter to the printing industry and other paper buyers today, in a united effort to bring greater environmental scrutiny to the climate and deforestation crisis in Indonesia's carbon-rich peatlands and rainforests. The letter draws attention to the fact that a new paper merchant, craftily named Eagle Ridge Paper, that has recently appeared in North America drumming up business for its discount paper rolls, is actually a thinly disguised division of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), an ambitious multinational forest and paper company with a long track record to date of environmental devastation.

The letter begins,

"We are writing to you today to provide important information about environmentally responsible paper. A new paper distribution company, named Eagle Ridge Paper, is obtaining pulp and paper products from operations having adverse climate, human rights and biodiversity impacts in Indonesia. Indonesia's rainforests are scientifically documented to have outstanding and rare ecological value. We believe that this paper's true costs are more than our planet can afford."
The letter is signed by NRDC, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, Green America, Green Press Initiative, Canopy, Environmental Investigation Agency, Dogwood Alliance and ForestEthics. It goes on to say,
"In October 2009, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) set up a new marketing & distribution arm - named Eagle Ridge Paper - in North America. This move came after APP lost hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with large customers such as Unisource, Office Depot, Staples, Corporate Express and others because of its poor environmental and social record and its reported links to illegally obtained wood.

Indonesia's rainforests comprise some of the most biologically diverse forests on the planet and provide habitat for endangered orangutans, Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants, and many other endangered species. Indonesia's rainforests are also home to millions of Indigenous people whose cultures and livelihoods are directly dependent on natural forests. They also store and capture billions of tons of CO2, and in so doing help maintain our atmosphere's biochemical equilibrium."
Recently, a string of companies in the fashion industry including, Tiffany's, Gucci, and H&M, have chosen to take their business elsewhere as well in an effort to align their paper purchasing supply chain with their stated corporate responsibility values. The letter goes on to say,
"Unfortunately, Indonesia suffers from among the fastest rates of deforestation in the tropics. According to reports from the Indonesian Pulp and Paper Association, World Wide Fund for Nature and others, APP and its fiber suppliers are the leaders in clearing and converting vast areas of rainforests in Sumatra and Borneo for pulp and paper."
Scientists say the extinction bomb is ticking for some iconic species, including one of our closest relatives. Orangutans, whose name means "man of the forest" - share about 97 per cent of our DNA. Researchers predict that if current conditions continue, they will be extinct in the wild in ten to twenty years.

The Sumatran tiger faces its own race against time, as its habitat shrinks to make way for paper and palm oil production. There are as few as 400 Sumatran tigers left in Indonesia and they are under relentless pressure from poaching and clearing of their habitat. After five years of studying tigers using wildlife-activated still camera traps, these are the first images of a tiger with offspring and were recorded after WWF-Indonesia’s Sumatran tiger research team set up new video camera traps along a wildlife “corridor” known to be used by tigers.

“We are very concerned because the territory of this tiger and its cubs is being rapidly cleared by two global paper companies, palm oil plantations, encroachers and illegal loggers. Will the cubs survive to adulthood in this environment?” said Karmila Parakkasi, the leader of WWF-Indonesia’s tiger team.

For its part, APP has been out there painting itself green, with commercials on CNN International, claiming, "APP Cares." And doing interviews for the North American market in trade publications, skillfully talking in circles, and playing the victim but rarely talking about the direct issues at hand.

The Paper Planet encourages you to look into these issues yourself, to make your own conclusions. When using paper, please reduce unnecessary paper use, and consider your paper purchases carefully. We all use paper. But low carbon, environmentally responsible options are now available, so there's no excuses. The letter sent today suggests to printers that they learn more and find recommendations of responsible paper choices to meet their business needs and offer their customers at http://www.whatsinyourpaper.com.


L Murphy said...

It might be helpful to remind the recipients of this letter that APP, its parent, Sinar Mas, and all majority owned subsidiaries are subject to a refusal of FSC to allow their participation in its certification programs. This dates to 16 november 2007. Here is the pertinent language FSC AC published then.

Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), of the Sinar Mas Group, is one example of a company that has been consistently associated with issues such as the destruction of tropical rainforests in Indonesia and has exhibited repeated documented failure to meet public commitments to cease such activities. Thus, it
Page 1 of 2
Charles-de-Gaulle Strasse 5 • 53113 Bonn • Germany
was concluded that any association between FSC and APP or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates would not be acceptable and would cause negative impacts to the thousands of companies who have credibly participated in the FSC system.
Following the new approach on this issue, the FSC Board of Directors decided that FSC should not allow any association of its name with APP or any company in which APP is a majority shareholder, unless APP completely and immediately stops converting natural forests and provides documented evidence of that cessation.

Anonymous said...

This makes no sense. A preapproved FSC auduitor gave APP certification but the WWF who funds most of FSC does not like APP even though they are following local laws and regulations. APP has been certified by PEFC, which is a non-biased organization.

These NGO's need to use science. There is no scientific fact that Forestry has made any animal extinct.

Lastly this claim is rediculous "was concluded that any association between FSC and APP or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates would not be acceptable and would cause negative impacts to the thousands of companies who have credibly participated in the FSC system.
Following the new approach on this issue, the FSC Board of Directors decided that FSC should not allow any association of its name with APP or any company in which APP is a majority shareholder, unless APP completely and immediately stops converting natural forests and provides documented evidence of that cessation"

Forestry in general cuts down natural forests, so there for no one should be FSC certified. People need to wake up and think for themselves instead of people telling them what is right and how to think.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that the Rainforest Action Network is described as a "most respected environmental" group, and amazed that Greenpeace want to be associated with them.

Anonymous said...

If these groups were truly anything more than hired guns by International Paper and Domtar what they'd really be focused on is trying to work with companies like APP to find a solution for all. It is extremely idealistic for these groups to think by sending out letters or writing blogs they are going to put companies like this out of business.

The market demands reasonably priced paper. North American mills can produce a carton of paper at the same costs as mills of APP/APRIL, or other offshore producers. However, by sponsoring campaigns like Paper Planet and accusing offshore mills of environmentally-unfriendlier practices they have been able to grab hold of the market, completely controlling price and supply. Domtar and IP have selected a handful of very large strategic customers (Staples, Office Depot, OfficeMax) and offered them far below market prices to keep offshore paper out of their supply chains. These companies account for more than 50% of demand in North America. The rest of the market is left with much higher costs (as much as $4/carton), which means we as consumers and businesses pay much higher prices than we should.

As long as this situation exists, Domtar and IP attempting to keep offshore mills out of this market, there will be a huge demand for lower cost paper from other suppliers. Got to love us Americans. We want to tell the world how to manage their natural resources (we've already perfected the mismanagement of ours) and at the same time demand the lowest priced products possible.

APP is the 2nd largest pulp and paper producer in the world (behind IP). They are not going away. Frankly, the North American market needs them.
Boycott is not a sustainable strategy, never has been. Instead, how about engagement with these companies? Sit across a table from them and understand where they are coming from. They don't claim to have all the answers. However, the line to provide guidance and direction to these companies in an effort to create more sustainable business models is short. The line to pile on and sling mud, with little due diligence performed in advance is quite long.

PaperLine said...

I am so tired of all these American NGO's who sit at home and just bullies any offshore mills just because they refuse to pay them under the table therefore they are the world enemies.
I would like someone who are a great believer of FSC to come forward and explain why in Europe FSC is seen as the worst Certification that their is.
Is it because Europeans don't take crap from Americans and don't let American bully them.
Also to the believers please go to the following site and realy see what FSC is all about.www.fsc-watch.org
I wonder if Staples,Walmart,Office Depot,Corporate Express that actualy is now Staples actualy ever took the time to see what FSC is about
Now when comes to Unisource please remenber that they were one of the Merchants in North America that got charged with price fixing and had to pay millions in fines
Also how come no one made any noise when Domtar closed the mills in Canada and took the Tax payers money in to China and upgraded one of the mills there so they could claim that the stock was still made in Canada and make more profit.
So it goes back to the real reason why any of the mills from Indonesia can't get certified is not because of what they do or don't
As long FSC is bein told by the North American mills and getting paid under the table they will keep any mill from any country that will try to come in and compete they will do anything to keep them away

オテモヤン said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Frank Locantore, Green America Better Paper Project said...

It's difficult to take serious comments left by someone unwilling to use their name and association. One can only assume s/he has a connection to APP.

Having said that, I would simply point out that the anonymous rant did nothing to refute the facts of the destruction of Indonesia's forests by APP and their supply chain.

As a proud member of the NGO community, I know that sitting "across the table from them" will only be enlightening if APP decides to sit across the table, too - something that is nearly always refused by corporations like APP.

Anonymous said...

With the competitive pricing by American coated paper mills there is absolutely NO reason a printer should buy from APP or China. The Feds need to put a tariff on printed product as well coming in from China.

Ron Litton

Ian Lifshitz, Sustainability and Public Outreach Manager, Asia Pulp and Paper said...

We are disappointed that rumors, myths and unsubstantiated facts about APP and our efforts for long-term sustainability in Indonesia keep entering the marketplace. To be clear, these so called facts are wrong and without any merit.

Indonesia is a developing nation and its future depends on growing industries that are responsible and sustainable. APP is one of the largest vertically integrated pulp and paper companies in the world. This couldn’t have been achieved without the support of many customers and stakeholders in Indonesia, China and worldwide who are proud to be associated with APP and to support the jobs we are creating. Ours is a balanced approach to sustainable development and takes into consideration environmental and biodiversity protection, climate change mitigation and economic development.

The facts are that APP and its pulpwood suppliers in Indonesia are certified by the official national forestry certification system as defined by the Government of Indonesia. APP has also gained Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) Chain of Custody certification for our pulp and paper mills. Moreover, APP’s pulpwood supplier has the largest plantation forest certified by the Indonesian Ecolabel Institute (LEI), a robust and internationally recognized independent certification system for sustainable forest management. Today in Indonesia, 30 percent of APP’s pulp raw materials originates from certified sustainable forest management sources, 35 percent originates from independently audited legal origin sources and the balance is recycled material. APP’s consumption of certified raw material is higher than global standards, considering that around 10 percent of the world’s forests are certified and less than two percent of Asia’s forests are certified.

As you may know, according to the Government of Indonesia’s spatial plan, only three percent of the Indonesian land mass is allocated for plantation forest for the pulp and paper industry. To ensure that areas with high conservation value are protected, APP’s pulpwood suppliers implement multiple environmental and social assessments using independent third party auditors. APP’s pulpwood suppliers have set aside approximately 40 percent of their production forest areas for environmental protection, community use, indigenous species protection and infrastructure. APP also supports around 500,000 hectares for pure conservation efforts, from maintaining vital carbon sinks to protecting endangered flora and fauna, including programs to protect the Sumatran Tiger and Bornean Orangutan. The Giam Siak Kecil–Bukit Batu Biosphere, which includes nearly 70,000 hectares of APP’s pulpwood suppliers’ production forest as part of its core conservation area was recently recognized by UNESCO as part of its Man and Biosphere program.

No other company in the pulp and paper industry worldwide has ever implemented conservation and carbon storage initiatives similar to these on such scale.

Our sustainability commitments, like those of any company, are works in progress. We believe our progress is not considered in the wider picture. For those who think that APP is not doing enough to protect the environment, we urge you to contact us, and come see our operations so you can better understand the sustainability aspects of our raw materials and production. And we open our doors to credible and responsible NGOs and independent auditors to trace the chain-of-custody of our products to enable them to better understand the sustainability aspects of our raw materials. Work with us to enhance our sustainable practices and we will work with you.

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