Xerox, National Geographic, Danone, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, and many other companies are using illegal wood pulp from an internationally protected tree species, according to a new investigative report from Greenpeace.
The report, The Ramin Paper Trail, says that wood pulp from Asia Pulp & Paper mills includes a protected species of trees, ramin. Greenpeace said it found the protected species mixed in with other hardwoods inside the gates at Indah Kiat Perawang mill, APP’s primary supplier in Indonesia.
Independent testing and supply chain research into copy paper, office supplies, packaging, books and other printed materials from a variety of companies then revealed the presence of Indonesian rainforest fiber from APP mills, originally sourced from Indah Kiat Perawang, Greenpeace said. National Geographic, Xerox, Walmart, Mondi Gorup, Acer, Parragon Publishing, Constable & Robinson, Barnes & Noble, Danone, Nippecraft, and Progressive Enterprises all used these fibers, Greenpeace said.
Greenpeace also identified global brands with chain of custody links to APP’s Indah Kiat Perawang mill. These products, however, either were not tested for MTH fiber or showed only traces of the fiber.
These companies are Vera Bradley, General Motors, 3M, Auchan, Tesco, PaperlinX, Sima Europe BV, White Paper Co., PaperlinX, Scatolificio del Garda, Advance Publications, British Museum Company Ltd, Bulova, C & C Joint Printing, Carlton Publishing, Chinese National Geography Press, Everbest Printing, La Martinière Groupe, R.R. Donnelley & Sons, TATA, Thames & Hudson, and Toppan Leefung Co.
The findings come after a year-long investigation, in which Greenpeace made numerous visits to APP’s Indah Kiat Perawang mill, and identified possible ramin logs mixed in with other rainforest species waiting to be pulped. Samples from 46 of these logs, some as wide as 1 meter in diameter, were tested at the Institute of Wood Technology and Wood Biology, vTI, University of Hamburg, Germany, and confirmed to be ramin, Greenpeace said.
Greenpeace alleges that its video evidence and the tested ramin wood samples – which the group says it has sent to the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretariat in Geneva – shows how illegal ramin logs are regularly mixed in with other rainforest species in APP’s pulpwood supply.
Indonesia banned the logging of and trade in ramin in 2001, but in this time more than one quarter of a ramin habitat, Sumatra’s peat swamp forests, has been cleared – in areas currently supplying APP, Greenpeace alleges.
Greenpeace said Indah Kiat Perawang trades to at least 12 APP paper mills in Indonesia and China, which in turn trade paper products in the global market.
In a statement, Asia Pulp & Paper said, “APP is grateful to Greenpeace for bringing this report to our attention. We take very seriously any evidence of violation of the regulations concerning the protection of endangered tree species.
“APP will now study the allegations very closely. A specialist APP team has been sent to the Indah Kiat mill to determine whether there is any substance to the claims. We will inform our stakeholders once this process is completed.”
The firm said anyone wishing to make further inquiries can email company representatives at email@example.com.
APP has been the center of numerous environmental activism campaigns. In June 2011 Greenpeace singled out Mattel for sourcing its fiber supplies from APP with the Barbie and Ken “I don’t date girls that are into deforestation” campaign. Greenpeace expanded the campaign to other toy makers, and Lego and Mattel have dropped APP as a supplier.
The WWF and non-profit coalition Eyes on the Forest leveled allegations that another APP wood supplier, PT Ruas Utama Jaya, is clear-cutting inside the Senepis Tiger Sanctuary in Sumatra.
The World Wildlife Fund contacted 20 grocers carrying tissue products made with fiber from Asia Pulp & Paper. Eight of the 20 decided to discontinue the product lines.
Update: This article was updated to provide a response from APP.