Asia Pulp & Paper Lashes Back at Greenpeace

Asia Pulp & Papers (APP)  has been accused repeatedly by Greenpeace of causing deforestation in Indonesia over the past few years. It is one of the biggest suppliers of paper pulp and one of its customers, Mattel has also been the target of a recent Greenpeace campaign. Now Mongabay reports that APP fires back at Greenpeace after losing several of its high profile customers.

Companies including Hasbro, Lego, Mattel, Montblanc, Staples, Adidas, Kraft, Nestle, Tesco, Carrefour and others have dropped APP as their supplier. ING banking group has also refused to do business with APP and all this has hit the company hard, prompting its retaliation against Greenpeace.

APP has stridently denied all allegations against them, however, they have long been involved in several activities that promote active deforestation of Indonesia’s forests. Apart from carbon emissions from deforestation, their activities directly threaten several endangered species like the Orangutan and Sumatran tiger. Their subsidiary Sinar Mas, is also responsible for illegally producing palm oil in Indonesia. APP recently released a statement saying:

“…claims by Greenpeace International that two Asia Pulp & Paper products were ‘proven’ to contain ‘Indonesian rainforest fibre’ have no scientific basis, it has been confirmed.”

This was after intensive testing of APP’s products by Greenpeace through third-party tester Integrated Paper Services (IPS). The IPS testing confirmed the presence of mixed tropical hardwood (MTH) fiber, typically sourced from natural forests. According to other authorities like Rainforest Action Network, the only source of MTH in the world comes from Indonesia and APP is the biggest company operating out of the country.

According to Greenpeace forest campaigner Andrew Tait, in addition to the forensic testing of APP’s products, they also have extensive research to back their claims. These include documentation of large-scale rainforest clearance by APP’s suppliers, GPS images and photographic evidence. Tait said in an email to Mongabay that:

“Our mappers have pinpointed deforestation in APP supplier concessions, our on-the-ground investigations have tracked the timber from these areas to APP mills, and our chain-of-custody research links the products from these mills to global brands like those in the toy sector.”

APP is now actively targeting the Greenpeace headquarters in Jakarta as they know the campaign against them is being led from there. They are also insisting that they abide by Indonesian law and are committed to reducing their impact on forests. However, from their past actions and repeated accusations of greenwashing not just from Greenpeace but also from various other organizations, it is hard to believe the company is innocent.

APP has been hosting a lot of engagements with journalists to boost transparency of their operations. They have recently also obtained the EU Ecolabel, but the evidence of their malpractice far outweighs any claims of their “commitment to sustainability.”

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net