Today the world’s third largest paper company, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) pledged to stop deforestation in Indonesia. As a result of years of campaigning by activist groups such as Greenpeace, the company stopped clearing virgin forests and announced that they will only source material from land that was not a rainforest ecosystem or that has already been cleared. This is a major victory for Indonesia’s forests, the world at large, and those looking to preserve habitats for critically endangered animals such as the Sumatran tiger and orangutan.
An in-depth investigation by Greenpeace last year found that APP was cutting down endangered trees that were illegal to harvest and selling them in packaging to clients. Following the report, major businesses such as Xerox, KFC, Disney, and Mattel left APP, contributing to the paper giant’s proclamation to cease rainforest logging this week. APP will continue to work with the The Forest Trust to change their policies, and if successful, they could influence the entire market. As a $6 billion company that produces 8.5 million tons of the paper a year, APP’s actions have the potential to set the standard for the industry.
“If the third-largest paper company in the world can commit to forest preservation – despite the complex social, political, economic and environmental challenges they have to navigate to do so—then any company can do it. Now, there is no excuse for companies – whether operating in Indonesia, Africa, or other forest-rich regions – to destroy forests as a consequence of feeding global demand for the goods they produce.” stated Scott Poynton, head of the The Forest Trust.
Aida Greenbury, APP’s managing director of sustainability attributed the shift primarily to the loss of reputation and damage to the company’s image. The decision also affects APP’s business interests. “Truthfully it’s not only about environmental and social sustainability, it’s also about economic sustainability as well. We need work with stakeholders not only in Indonesia but beyond, because we want to make sure that we don’t have a lost opportunity in the future to expand our market.” she said.
Greenpeace will continue to monitor the APP’s activities, making sure that the company remains true to its pledge to avoid high-carbon stock stands and peatland. NGOs and environmental groups will now be looking to Asia Pacific Resources International, the second largest producer in Indonesia to follow APP’s lead.