UPDATE: At the end I've posted a response I just got from APP.
Here is something you probably didn’t know: Some of those luxury shopping bags your purchases are placed in at stores like Versace, Prada and J. Crew may have contributed to tropical rainforest deforestation.
Here’s how according to the Rainforest Action Network, an advocacy group: Some of the bags are made from trees cut unsustainably in Indonesia’s threatened rainforest, gobbling up elephant and orangutan habitat, harming local indigenous populations and releasing tons of heat trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. RAN, and other international environmental groups, has been targeting Asia Pulp and Paper company – one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies – who they say refused to use more sustainable harvesting practices and avoid threatened areas.
Now, New Hampshire luxury packaging company, PAK 2000 based in Mirror Lake – a powerhouse in the luxury paper bag market – is taking a huge green step forward to ensure their bags are made with paper harvested in more environmentally friendly ways. According to the Rainforest Action Network, PAK 2000 has announced they will cut ties with Asia Pulp and Paper and begin developing a “leadership” paper policy early next year.
“Indonesia is ground zero for deforestation and climate change,’’’ said Lafcadio Cortesi of the Action Network. "Through its actions PAK 2000 is demonstrating that paper from rainforest destruction is not a bargain for the fashion industry or for our children's future."
According to RAN, PAK 2000’s announcement is part of a trend of companies like Tiffany’s & Co., H&M Group, Gucci Group and Ferragamo who have announced commitments to end relationships with controversial suppliers such as Asia Pulp and Paper.
PAK 2000 has committed to phasing out all controversial and high conservation value forest fiber from its paper products within 180 days, according to the RAN.
I have calls or emails in to PAK 2000 and Asia Pulp and Paper – will post their comments once I get them.
Dear Valued Customer,
We are aware of the pressure you are receiving from the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) regarding concerns that they have about the sustainability of Asia Pulp and Paper’s (APP) products. It is disappointing that there continues to be a concerted effort to misinform the public about our genuine efforts for long-term sustainability. In fact, RAN’s statements are deeply misleading and we would like to take this opportunity correct the record.
The bottom-line is you can be proud of purchasing APP products. In partnership with some of the world’s largest and best known certification standard setting and independent auditing organizations, we are leading the way in the creation of a sustainable model for responsibly produced paper in the developing world. And, with your support, we are helping to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in Indonesia, a country where more than 100 million people live on less than $2 a day . A recent report by World Growth International found that up to 7% of GDP in developing countries is created by the forestry industry, and this important forestry industry contribution is an important fact which is often overlooked by NGOs such as RAN.
Much of the developed world has long been through the cycle of utilizing their natural resources to bring people out of poverty. APP is committed to alleviating poverty through the development of sustainable forests; and, by working with both national and international organizations, APP is able to make a real and lasting difference.
APP and its pulpwood suppliers invested more than US$40 million in environmental, social empowerment and support programs within Indonesia during 2007. This funding targets programs that will protect biodiversity, improve standards of living and help alleviate poverty over the long-term. In addition we have created more than 120,000 current jobs for people in Indonesia and China combined.
We feel that RAN, and other groups who focus singularly on one agenda, fail to see the big picture and, while they have good intentions, their efforts ultimately do more harm than good. Without nationwide poverty alleviation programs, the forests of Indonesia will not be sustainable. Poverty is a leading cause of illegal logging and sustainably managed plantations act both as job creator and as a fortress against encroachment. We are determined to play a positive role in balancing the needs of both biodiversity protection and poverty alleviation.
Allow us to share with you the facts:
• APP and its pulpwood suppliers adhere to strict, independently audited, Legal Origin Verification and Chain-of-Custody protocols to ensure that no illegally obtained wood enters the fiber supply.
• APP’s major mills have achieved Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) Chain-of-Custody Certification. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, PEFC is a leading, internationally recognized forest management certification program.
• APP launched the first-ever Indonesian eco-label, LEI, certified paper; five of APP’s mills maintain LEI Chain-of-Custody certifications; and, one of APP’s major pulpwood suppliers manages the largest LEI certified sustainable forest in Indonesia. LEI demonstrates that certification in Indonesia can be achieved systematically and transparently, on a level commensurate with any international standard, even in the world’s most challenging circumstances for forestry management. Today, LEI product is well accepted in the USA, EU countries and Japan.
• On average, 90% of APP Indonesia’s woodchip supply for pulp-making comes from sustainable plantations operated by its exclusive suppliers – in other words, these are trees expressly planted on legally appointed area according to national spatial plan for the purposes of harvesting for pulpwood.
• The other 10% comes from mixed wood residues from legal plantation development activities. These plantation developments are carefully reviewed as stipulated by the Government of Indonesia in its strategy both to ensure biodiversity protection and to support the country’s sustainable economic development
• Today, on average more than 30% of APP’s total pulp supply is Sustainable Forest Management certified. Only less than 10% of the world’s forest is certified therefore APP’s consumption of certified material is significantly above standard. APP in Indonesia is the also only company which promotes recycled paper products.
• Today APP’s pulpwood suppliers plant more than one million trees every day as part of the continuing effort to build sustainable plantations
• Recognizing the conservation value that exists in its pulpwood plantation, APP’s fiber suppliers have identified and set aside around 40% of their concession areas for conservation, indigenous-species protection and preservation, community use and related infrastructure. Incorporated in these set-asides, APP and its pulpwood suppliers have implemented several Conservation Flagship Programs to protect and manage areas of significant and representative biological diversity and/or cultural significance for the benefit of the people of Indonesia. During 2007, APP and its pulpwood suppliers collaborated on four major large-landscape forest protection programs: the 172,000 hectares of UNESCO-approved Giam Siak Kecil Biosphere Reserve; the 10,000 hectares Taman Raja Nature Preserve; the 106,000 hectares Senepis Sumatran Tiger Sanctuary; and the Kutai Orangutan Program. No other players in the pulp & paper industry worldwide have ever implemented initiatives similar to these on such scale.
• In Indonesia, APP has embarked on the first-ever-in-the-world Carbon-Socio Footprint Assessments and will be making additional, measurable commitments to sustainability, not the least of which will include the company’s long-term objective of producing carbon neutral paper.
As you receive information from RAN and other groups who falsely and unfairly claim that APP is not doing enough to protect the environment, we urge you to contact us; come see our operations for yourself; and, work with us to seek solutions that balance the complex and interconnected needs of the developing world.
We are directly and indirectly responsible for the support of millions of families in challenging emerging economies, where poverty, land conflicts, health and welfare needs are rampant. We are not perfect and we can not do it alone. We base our strategy on continual improvement. We hope you will make the right decision to help us.
If you would like any more information on the many ways we are working to improve the sustainability of our operations whilst helping to ensure the continued economic development of the communities we work in/with, please visit www.asiapulppaper.com
You may also contact me directly.
Director of Sustainability & Stakeholder Engagement
About the green blog
Helping Boston live a greener, more environmentally friendly life.
Christopher Reidy covers business for the Globe.
Doug Struck covers environmental issues from Boston.
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