Collins Debden Australia takes a stand against rainforest destruction

Feature Story - 15 March, 2012
Help us persuade more companies to do the same

Barge loaded with rainforest logs.

After launching the Ramin Paper Trail report - the result of a year-long undercover investigation into illegal operations at Asia Pulp and Paper’s largest mill in Sumatra - we’ve already received some very promising news.

For those who missed the report it's worth recapping. Indonesia's peat forests, home to the Sumatran tiger, have been cleared at a devastating rate with much of this clearance now controlled by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP). Within these forests also grow ramin, a tree species protected under Indonesian law and listed on the international CITES agreement for the protection of endangered species.

Evidence collected at this particular APP mill shows that APP log yards are riddled with illegal ramin logs. Samples were collected and sent to independent experts who verified that the logs were ramin.

The entire investigation has been captured on film and put online here in a transparent way, so APP, its customers, and importantly the Indonesian authorities cannot ignore the facts.

And already some APP customers - and even one company partly controlled by APP - have responded positively. We’d like to congratulate Collins Debden Australia - the makers of Australia’s most popular diary range - for dropping APP as a supplier and committing to no longer use raw materials from APP mills in Indonesia - see their policy here.

This is no small feat for Collins Debden Australia. Previously Australian-owned the company was bought by a Singaporean company, Nippecraft – which is in turn majority owned by APP. Our chain of custody and forensic analysis shows that rainforest fibre from APP’s mills was ending up in Collins Debden diaries. When confronted with this evidence, the leadership at Collins Debden acted quickly to overhaul its paper source and improve its policy - this includes excluding APP fibre. Hopefully the leadership shown by Collins Debden Australia will be a wake-up call to the larger APP group that it’s time to end rainforest destructive throughout its entire operations.

Our investigation is also having an impact globally.

Over in the US, we’ve seen the Oasis Brands, a tissue paper company closely affiliated with APP, take a new approach. Until recently, Oasis was a staunch defender of APP but when we released our evidence showing APP involved in illegal ramin pulping, the company put a statement on its website announcing that “previous supply ties to Asia Pulp & Paper-Indonesia are being dissolved”. Oasis includes no specifics, and admits this move does not apply to all its products, but it's an indication our exposé is causing APP to lose some of its closest friends and largest customers.

National Geographic has also notified us that it won’t use any APP paper. We've discussed our research with National Geographic, including evidence linking it to APP and Mixed Tropical Hardwood (MTH) fibre in the past. We have more to do together, and have offered to input into strengthening its fibre procurement policy, but we are convinced that National Geographic’s commitment to not source from APP is genuine.

Last week, Mondi – a leading international paper and packaging group – confirmed to us in writing that it is now acting to remove any links to APP in its supply chain. Danone is also moving, and has sent us an initial confirmation that it is suspending further purchases from APP. We have suspended the cyberaction against the company, pending further clarification of its policy. We’ll keep you posted on this one.

But there are still many other companies using APP paper - Xerox, Barnes and Noble (a US bookstore), and Countdown (a New Zealand supermarket chain) have failed to get the message that APP is a bad bet to do business with.

In Australia, APP’s toilet paper brand, Livi is still being used in hotels, cafes and businesses across the country.

Help us to get these APP customers to drop APP.