APP says printers should check their paper suppliers

Asia Pulp and Paper is calling on paper customers to adopt zero-deforestation policies and thoroughly examine the practices of suppliers when sourcing their paper, saying certifications like the FSC need to be stricter to be completely relied upon.

APP director of sustainability and stakeholder engagement Aida Greenbury says industry and governments in both Australia and Indonesia need to come together and commit to eradicating deforestation before the forest is lost forever.

She says while many customers pulled the plug on APP after its deforestation practices were well-publicised, they continue to buy from others whose practices are yet to be exposed because they don’t have a robust policy to examine supply chains.

“APP is the only paper manufacturer in Indonesia with a zero-deforestation policy. We were the only ones who stuck our neck out and we need support rather than being shunned,” she says.

[Related: Read the whole APP saga]

Greenbury says the company wants to focus on the future instead of the past and that it can’t save the Indonesian rainforest all by itself. She says if other companies continue to log native rainforests, the erosion of drainage means even the best managed forest will be at risk.

“If other companies don’t support us there will be no forest left. We will fail,” she says.

“We hope to be part of a new conservation model for Indonesia. We need to expand protection and it needs to be done by many parties including government.”

However she says the Indonesian government is in election mode and no one wants to make any decisions right now.

Greenbury issues this call to arms even as APP is undergoing the long, multi-stage process to reacquiring Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, which is considered a prerequisite for many businesses before they will deal with suppliers like APP.

The company is awaiting an audit by the Rainforest Alliance into the implementation of its year-old Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) that includes a commitment to zero deforestation, full transparency of its operations, and severe penalties for suppliers found breaking the rules.

The report, due in September, is critical to APP’s chances of gaining FSC certification.

Confident that APP can now pass with flying colours, Greenbury says all standards and certifications need to be stricter if they are to do much to help the environment.

“Customers need to get away from this focus on labels and look for themselves into what their suppliers are doing,” she says.

“It’s not good enough to have standards that allow any deforestation. We want to set a new standard and we hope Australian businesses can lead the way.”

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Greenbury also took a swipe at the Australian government, saying she ‘doesn’t expect much from Tony Abbott’ on environmental and climate change policy.

“From what I’ve seen so far, there has been a lack of initiatives since the change of government that was there before,” she says.

“It’s gone downhill and I think it needs to be picked up again.”

She says not only is it the right thing to do, but it is also in Australia’s interest to be an active environmental player in the region.

“The Australian government really needs to be more aware of these deforestation and climate change issues and encourage Indonesia to do more to tackle them,” she says.

“Indonesia is one of its closest neighbours so if climate change happens and Indonesia has problems, where does it go? It is in Australia’s interests to make sure that what we are doing succeeds.”

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