Disney’s New Paper Policy Aims to Save the Rainforests

The Walt Disney Company announced its new paper policy on October 11 which establishes guidelines for its business operations, suppliers and licensees. The policy aims to accomplish three main goals: minimize the use of paper, eliminate paper products that contain “irresponsibly” harvested fiber and increase recycled content. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) thinks the new policy is “sure to have wide-ranging impacts in the U.S. and around the world.”

“The paper policy is an example of how Disney conducts business in an environmentally and socially responsible way, and demonstrates the Company’s commitment to creating a lasting, positive impact on ecosystems and communities worldwide,” said Dr. Beth Stevens, senior vice president, Disney Corporate Citizenship, Environment and Conservation.

Disney’s new paper policy specifically aims to eliminate the use of paper fiber from:

  • Illegally harvested wood
  • High conservation value areas that are being degraded by poor land practices
  • Areas where paper fiber is harvested in violation of internationally accepted instruments and treaties protecting the rights of indigenous or forest-dependent peoples
  • Areas that have been converted from natural forests to plantations and other land uses after November 1994
  • Plantations using genetically modified trees

The new paper policy also aims to increase the use of wood fiber sourced from forestry operations certified by the FSC or “an equivalent forest certification scheme.” In addition, the policy aims to:

  • Maximize the use of paper products processed without chlorine or chlorine compounds
  • Minimize paper use and facilitate end-of-life recycling
  • Minimize paper used in day-to-day operations
  • Maximize the recovery of used paper and packaging for recycling

Disney will implement its new paper policy in two phases. The first phase will address paper used in its day-to-day business operations and its products and the packaging for those products. During the first phase, Disney will make it a priority to account for the country of origin and source of the paper fiber. During the second phase, Disney will deal with its branded products and packaging by its licensees. Disney will publicly report every year on its progress.

How the Rainforest Action Network worked with Disney

The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) began a campaign in 2010 that urged Disney and the other top 10 U.S. children’s book publishers to stop using paper sourced from rainforests in Indonesia. Indonesian rainforests are being destroyed at the estimated rate of 2.5 million acres a year. By November 2010, eight of the 10 publishers committed to eliminating Indonesian fiber sourced from rainforests from their supply chains, but not Disney or Harper Collins. RAN launched a campaign with what it called a “high profile direct action” at Disney Studios in Los Angeles. After pressure from RAN, Disney entered into negotiations with the non-profit organization for over a year, and the announcement of its paper policy is the result.

RAN commends Disney for the new policy. “We commend Disney for adding its significant voice to the growing chorus of companies demonstrating that there’s no need to sacrifice endangered forests or animals for the paper we use every day,” said Rebecca Tarbotton, executive director of RAN.

Photo: Flickr user, Sean MacEntee

Correction: Please, note that a previous version referring to criticisms of Disney do not pertain to the paper policy.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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