There's further bad news for Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) as yet more companies around the world ditch their contracts with the unscrupulous forest-trashing company. Hot on the heels of Mattel and Lego, today Hasbro announced a new paper-buying policy.
Hasbro's new policy says it will avoid controversial sources of paper fibre, and has explicitly requested that suppliers avoid dealing with APP. Hasbro has also committed to boost its use of FSC-certified and recycled paper in toy packaging.
So the list of companies refusing to do business with APP is continually growing and also features many well-known brands. Here are some more recent additions:
• Tchibo, the world's fifth largest coffee roaster
• Montblanc, maker of luxury pens
• The Warehouse, the largest department store group in New Zealand
• Delhaize, Belgium's second largest retailer and owner of Food Lion in the US
• Metcash, one of Australia's largest supermarket chains
• Cartamundi, the world’s leading maker of playing cards
• Plus banking group ING has ceased providing financial services for one of APP’s companies.
These names join the likes of Nestlé, Adidas, Kraft, Unilever, Tesco, Carrefour, Auchan and Metro Group who have all taken action against APP in their supply chains. Staples, the stationary retailer, summed things up pretty well when they described APP as a "great peril to our brand". More and more companies agree.
Despite the loss of these customers and its increasingly tattered reputation, APP carries on regardless. Our recent Tiger's Eye Tour found extensive clearance of rainforests inside APP concessions in Sumatra. Areas being cleared include those mapped as habitat for the endangered Sumatran tiger, as well as peatland areas more than three metres deep which under Indonesian law must be protected. Fires to clear the land were also identified inside two APP concession areas – this is also prohibited.
And all the while, its PR mouthpieces insist the company is acting responsibly through rose-tinted advertising full of hyperbole and media-friendly, piecemeal support for conservation projects. Talk about turning a blind eye. In the Netherlands, the Dutch Advertising Code Commission (DACC) judged that APP’s TV and paper adverts, which positions APP as a company that cares about the environment, are misleading the public. APP was running a significant amount of these adverts both on TV and in print, and the ruling means that they will no longer be able to continue them in the Netherlands, as the advertising sector there has committed itself to respecting the DACC rulings.
APP's sinking reputation also appears to place the company completely at odds with the president of Indonesia, who has recently pledged to dedicate the remaining three years of his time in office to protecting the rainforests. "I do not want to later explain to my granddaughter Almira that we, in our time, could not save the forests and the people that depend on it," he said at a conference last month. "I do not want to tell her the sad news that tigers, rhinoceroses, and orang-utans vanished like the dinosaurs."
Which makes the recent deportation of Greenpeace staff from Indonesia and ongoing pressure on our office inside the country all the more disturbing.
So how much more damage to Indonesia's international reputation will be done by APP before they reform? So how many more contracts must APP lose before the company realises that destroying rainforests for throwaway paper products is an unacceptable practice in the 21st century? How much longer will it be before APP is persuaded to follow its sister company, Golden Agri Resources, in committing to a progressive policy to conserve rainforests?