Asia Pulp & Paper Sets Sustainability as a Requirement to Future Growth

Asia Pulp & Paper Sets Sustainability as a Requirement to Future Growth

At a summit of global paper industry leaders, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) announced a commitment to halt expansion of its pulp-processing facilities until it finds a source for sustainably produced materials.

The company, which is the third largest pulp and paper producer in the world, and the industry leader in Asia, said it would instead increase the efficiency of its two Indonesian paper mills through a process called de-bottlenecking.

"The are no plans to expand the two existing mills without access to additional sustainably produced materials," APP's head of sustainability, Aida Greenbury, told Reuters.

APP has been at the center of some sustainable forestry controversy in recent years; at the end of 2007, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) announced that it was disassociating itself from any relationship to APP based on evidence that APP's parent company, Sinar Mas, engages in destructive forestry practices. And in 2008, both Staples and Woolworth's cut Asia Pulp & Paper as a supplier over its environmental performance. And the recent Green Grades scorecard on paper policies gave a boost to firms that had ended supply contracts with firms like APP and industry leader International Paper.

From the Reuters article, by David Fogarty and Sunanda Creagh:

Since that incident, APP has reviewed its supplier lists and submitted the results to the FSC, said Greenbury. APP's suppliers have been accused of illegal logging and of burning forest to create access roads, but Greenbury said this was untrue.

"We demand that the pulp wood supplier has to ensure the legality of the wood and if possible, certification," she said. "The fact that our material is 30 percent certified is significantly above global standards."

However, she could not guarantee that illegal logs would not make their way to APP's mills.

"There are no companies in the world who can guarantee 100 percent that their materials are of sustainable source. What my institution has been doing is looking at how can we minimise the gap," she said.

In other forestry and paper-related news today, the Forest Disclosure Project, a U.K.-based nonprofit, announced the list of companies to whom it had sent its initial "forest footprinting" survey.
The forest footprint survey is modeled after the Carbon Disclosure Project's survey of corporate carbon emissions; it aims to represent the direct and indirect impacts a business has on the world's forests.

The survey was sent to 200 companies on leading stock exchanges; the Forest Disclosure Project aims to publish the results in January 2010 as a way to encourage firms to measure and manage the amount of deforestation is associated with their operations.

Photos CC-licensed by Flickr users alastairb and GreenPeace Finland.