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Greenpeace Scales Mattel HQ in Toy Packaging Protest

Greenpeace has launched a global campaign against Mattel, scaling headquarter buildings around the world and hanging huge banners depicting a frowning Ken doll and the caption, “Barbie, it’s over. I don’t date girls that are into deforestation.”

As Greenpeace describes it:

Wearing baby blue formal wear, Ken and a few buddies paid a visit to the Mattel HQ in Los Angeles today.  And, by ‘pay a visit’, I mean they climbed on top of the building, strapped on climbing gear, dangled off the roof outside the windows of awe-struck employees, and hung a 2,500 square foot banner reading “It’s OVER” for Barbie to see.  I guess you could say the guy has a flair for the dramatic.

Activists hung similar banners in London’s Piccadilly Circus. And it may not stop there. In its blog, the NGO wrote that, “Online activists in China, Indonesia and beyond are now waking up to take on Barbie’s rainforest destroying habit!”

Greenpeace launched the campaign because it says Mattel has been destroying rainforests in Indonesia for disposable packaging. Specifically, Mattel sources fiber supplies from Asia Pulp and Paper, “the notorious Asia Pulp and Paper,” as Greenpeace puts it, a long-time target of Greenpeace activists. Greenpeace says that APP pulpwood suppliers target and clear some of Sumatra’s most ecologically important forests, including those designated as a priority for tiger conservation.

Greenpeace writes in its blog:

By analysing the fibres in Barbie packaging and digging into the commercial links between various companies, we’ve been able to link the carbon-rich forests and peatlands of Indonesia with the packaging of toys on sale in shops around the world. The trail leads directly from Mattel to APP and its suppliers in a chain of destruction that spans the globe.

Mattel issued a response to the protests, the LA Times reports:

Playing responsibly has long been an important part of Mattel’s business practices. … We have been in communication with Greenpeace on a variety of paper-sourcing issues. We are surprised and disappointed that they have taken this inflammatory approach.

While Mattel is facing the brunt of the campaign, Greenpeace is putting other toy makers on notice too:

Other toy companies are involved as well, and we have evidence on Disney, Hasbro and Lego too. Some of their branded merchandise also contains the same mixed tropical hardwood fibre which is only produced on a commercial scale by two companies in Indonesia, one of which is APP.

This latest campaign is one of many attacks Greenpeace has made on APP. Last year, Carrefour , Tesco, Kraft, Nestlé and Unilever said they were in the process of implementing policies for pulp and paper which would exclude paper products from APP – unless it made substantial improvements to the sustainability of its fiber supplies.

Unilever, Kraft and Nestlé also have canceled contracts with the Sinar Mas group’s palm oil division, also due to Greenpeace’s urging.

Last year, Greenpeace also reported that Staples, Office Depot, Woolworths (Australia), Franklin Covey, Fuji Xerox, Ricoh, Target, Unisource, H&M and Gucci had all decided to stop buying from APP.

Asia Pulp and Paper issued a statement saying:

Greenpeace’s allegation that it found mixed tropical hardwood fibers in some products that we might have produced is meaningless. Indonesia’s pulpwood land concessions, legally provided by the Government of Indonesia, include some degraded forests, which are required by law to be developed into plantations. Rather than burn the wood residues, increase carbon emissions or create disease outbreaks in the forests, the government requires that they be used to produce paper pulp. Despite this, as publicaly stated, we have set the goal of 100% sustainable plantation pulp by 2015. There is absolutely no illegal wood tolerated, nor is high conservation forest (HCV) harvested for pulpwood production.

Regarding carton box packaging, the specific target of the Greenpeace report, we are proud to clarify that our packaging materials contain between 80% and 90% of recycled paper sourced from around the world, making APP a leader in Indonesia in recycled paper production.

We call on Greenpeace to do the responsible thing and share with the public the detailed scientific analysis and independent result on which it bases its allegations.


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