Yesterday, the notorious rainforest destroyer Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), the parent company of New Zealand based Cottonsoft, made a grandstanding announcement that it was committed to protecting the natural forests of Indonesia.
Now you may recall that last year we released the result of scientific testing that conclusively showed that Cottonsoft products contained rainforest fibre. And needless to say, yesterday Cottonsoft issued a statement welcoming "a raft of new sustainability measures by its Indonesia-based supplier Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP)" which includes "a commitment to suspend the clearing of natural forest on its own pulpwood concessions in Indonesia".
Two very interesting things struck me about this. Firstly, there's nothing new about this statement. Back in 2006, Asia Paper and Paper made very similar commitments in the New York Times, stating its intention to protect high conservation value forests. And yet it failed to deliver on these promises. Although, I guess if you call recycling old statements a commitment to 'sustainability', then perhaps it's on the right track.
But this actually begs a more important question. If APP are just repeating earlier, broken promises, then what has been going on for the last six years?
When our investigation exposed the use of rainforest fibre in some Cottonsoft brands, the company and its apologists were quick to retort that this could not be the case claiming that "Cottonsoft products do not contain any high conservation value wood" and that they only sourced from sustainable sources. On the contrary, APP's latest announcement would seem to suggest otherwise.
The thing is that APP has continued and will continue to be supplied timber from natural forests, including those of high conservation value for years to come. So is it any wonder that forensic testing found rainforest fibre in Cottonsoft toilet paper?
This is a missed opportunity and once again smacks of the greenwash and hollow rhetoric that that has become synonymous with the APP brand and betrays APP's customers around the world.
It could have been so different if APP followed the approach taken by its sister company in the Sinar Mas Group, Golden Agri Resources (GAR). GAR introduced a forest conservation policy last year that committed the company to not develop its plantations on forests or peatland. By failing to adopt similar necessary and responsible action, APP has just ensured it will continue to lose customers whilst the rainforests of Indonesia continue to be trashed.
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