APP: “Zero tolerance for illegal wood”.
These are the five words that say a lot but apparently mean little to a company that has made a mantra out of repeating something which is simply not true. And today, we’ve released proof that what APP says is wrong - the results of a yearlong investigation uncovering how APP is systematically violating Indonesia’s laws which protect ramin, an internationally protected tree species under CITES.
As you may recall in New Zealand, APP is the parent company of Cottonsoft, a Kiwi based company that Greenpeace exposed last year for selling toilet paper scientifically linked to rainforest clearance. Forensic testing conclusively showed that rainforest fibre – or mixed tropical hardwood – were present in some of their brands. A fact that, to date, Cottonsoft has failed to address.
See what followed from Cottonsoft after the release of our investigation can only be described as nothing more that a storm of ill-informed and wildly inaccurate claims – a convergence of erroneous and shrill statements that were designed to mislead the New Zealand public. In a desperate attempt to defend rainforest destruction to make throwaway products such as toilet paper, Cottonsoft, and their flag-bearers at the Food and Grocery Council decided to attack the science and the integrity of our investigation, rather than deal to the facts.
However, the evidence released today will only compound the case against one of the world’s most notorious rainforest destroyers and silence those who defend their actions.
Watch footage from the undercover investigation
The cold, harsh reality is that ramin trees come from Indonesia’s peat swamp forests which are also home to the endangered Sumatran tiger. Our latest mapping analysis shows that since 2001, at least 180,000 hectares of peat swamp forest – an area twice the size of New York City have been cleared in concessions now controlled by APP. Is it any wonder there are only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild?
Numerous visits were made to APP’s largest pulp mill in Indonesia over the course of last year. Hidden among other rainforest species waiting to be pulped were numerous illegal ramin logs. To prove these trees were ramin, samples were taken and sent to an independent expert lab in Germany. The lab confirmed that all of these samples were indeed ramin.
As well as finding APP in possession of illegal ramin we’ve tracked where APP’s pulp and paper is going and found a trail that leads us back to major global names such as Xerox, National Geographic and Danone. Indeed, some of the products are sold here New Zealand by retailers such as Progressives who own the Countdown, Woolworths and FoodTown stores. As we did with Barbie’s packaging last year we sent their products for forensic testing and found they contained rainforest fibre.
Not only is APP undermining the rule of law in Indonesia it is also implicating some of its biggest customers in this rainforest scandal. The likes of Xerox and Danone must now follow in the footsteps of other major names like Mattel, Nestle and Adidas who have already suspended all purchases from APP. Here in New Zealand, we are asking that companies like Progressives act by immediately committing to stop selling APP products until they agree to stop pulping Indonesia’s natural forests.
In Jakarta, Greenpeace Indonesia will be handing the video footage to the Police and is urging the Ministry of Forestry and CITES authorities to immediately seize all illegal ramin in APP’s operations and work together to end the trade in ramin from Indonesia’s peat swamp forests.
Please help us persuade Xerox, National Geographic, Danone and many more companies to stop buying from APP until the company cleans up its act.
- Bustar Maitar is a Greenpeace Indonesia forests campaigner