New Greenpeace research confirms Cottonsoft toilet rolls contaminated with rainforest fibres

Press release - November 23, 2011
Greenpeace has today released further evidence showing how tissue products made by Cottonsoft, a subsidiary of Indonesian paper giant Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), are contaminated with rainforest fibres.

The new research, conducted last month by German laboratory the Institute of Paper Science and Technology, found rainforest fibre in a second batch of samples from the same Cottonsoft products tested earlier this year by IPS - a company which names among its clients US Government departments, the FBI and a host of major companies in the pulp and paper sector.

This additional research further confirms the accuracy of those earlier tests.

Greenpeace released this new evidence after a PR company working for Asia Pulp and Paper subsidiary Cottonsoft falsely claimed on Monday that IPS - the testing company that undertook initial tests on the Cottonsoft-branded toilet paper - had disowned their results (1).

In fact, a letter from IPS to Greenpeace in October states that: “Our lead fiber analyst… is a recognised expert in the field. The findings of his work are clear for the materials that Greenpeace sent us for analysis: the principle component in the samples was Acacia, a plantation hardwood, while mixed tropical hardwoods were also seen in some samples”.

Greenpeace has always made clear that the laboratory provided only analysis of the toilet papers for rainforest and other fibres. The additional evidence confirming the source of the rainforest fibre as being from Indonesia was provided by Greenpeace research on the ground, and a search of company records (2).

Greenpeace is today writing to the PR company who made this claim and to APP/Cottonsoft asking for an immediate retraction of the false statements they issued to media.

APP/Cottonsoft also claimed that they have test results proving that their toilet paper was sustainable, but have so far refused to confirm which products were tested and have failed to make the full test results available.

Greenpeace NZ Executive Director Bunny McDiarmid said:

“Once again APP/Cottonsoft has been caught red-handed. No amount of PR sleight of hand changes the facts - which are that APP/Cottonsoft’s supply chain is contaminated with rainforest fibre.

“This is presumably why Cottonsoft were the only company that refused to cooperate with Greenpeace’s original survey of the sustainability of Kiwi toilet roll brands.

“The Kiwi roots of Cottonsoft are sadly a distant memory. The company is now a subsidiary of APP, the world’s most notorious rainforest destroyer, a company that even now refuses to stop pulping Indonesia’s rainforests for its throwaway paper products. APP’s procurement practices are the reason that multinational companies like Nestle, Mattel, Kraft, Unilever, Adidas and others have stopped doing business with them. We call on Kiwi companies to do the same until the company reforms it practices.

“It’s time for APP/Cottonsoft to clean up their act and give people want they want – toilet roll that doesn’t trash the rainforests,” McDiarmid said.

APP, one of the two biggest paper pulp companies in Indonesia, is rapidly expanding around the world. It bought Cottonsoft in 2007, as part of a strategy of aggressively expanding in Australasia.

APP admits to using fibre that comes from Indonesia’s rainforests in its pulp mills, as confirmed by its most recent CSR report. It terms this fibre “mixed wood residues”.

APP has also announced that it will need to remain dependent on the clearance of Indonesia’s rainforests until the end of 2015. APP’s business development strategy is based on the ongoing expansion of its suppliers into rainforest areas (3).


Interviews with Bunny McDiarmid can be arranged through Jay Harkness, Greenpeace NZ Media and Communications, on 021 495 216.

(1) In a 21 November press release Cottonsoft’s Corporate Affairs Director Steve Nicholson stated: “Greenpeace based its misguided and misleading campaign against Cottonsoft on a single premise: it had commissioned tests which proved that APP products contained fibre from what Greenpeace called “trashed Indonesian rainforest”. The company Greenpeace employed to carry out the tests, Integrated Paper Services, has since stated categorically in a letter that there is no scientific basis for this claim.’

In further press statements APP/Cottonsoft said:
"We commissioned the independent testing by Covey Consulting following Greenpeace's erroneous attack on our business. We took this further step following confirmation from Integrated Paper Services, the company which did the initial testing for Greenpeace, that the exaggerated claims about 'trashed Indonesian rainforest' were not supported by the data.”

(2) Forensic tests by IPS conclusively found rainforest fibre (mixed tropical hardwood/ MTH) in Cottonsoft toilet rolls. Further tests by a German Laboratory both verified this finding.
Greenpeace did not claim that the IPS tests in-and-of themselves identify or 'prove' country of origin. But it’s clear that the MTH fibre test results do, in this case, indicate or 'show' the country of origin as Indonesia, because Indonesia is the only country where MTH is harvested at a commercial scale for pulp. The presence of acacia in the test results provides further supporting evidence that Indonesia is the origin of the pulp fibre; the vast majority of acacia pulpwood plantations are being harvested from Indonesia at this time, with APP being one of the largest producers.

Furthermore Greenpeace have extensive evidence linking APP to rainforest destruction. It starts with APP’s own documents. Some of these documents are public, like its latest corporate social responsibility report in which APP admits that it uses rainforest fibre, though it prefers to refer to this in PR-speak as "mixed wood residues". And then we have our own research. By carrying out overflights of APP concession areas we have repeatedly documented, using GPS images, large-scale rainforest clearance by APP’s suppliers. Our mappers have pinpointed deforestation in APP concessions, our on-the-ground investigations have tracked the timber from these areas to APP mills, and our chain-of-custody research links the products from these mills to companies like Cottonsoft.

(3) Greenbury (2011) ‘Truly sustainable business model eliminates “either/or” choices’, Eco-Business. com, 14 April 2011

The initial IPS test results, and a letter from IPS confirming their test results are available from the Greenpeace press office. The Institute of Paper Science and Technology test results are also available.