Levi's new forest policy excludes fiber from suppliers linked to deforestation

mongabay.com
January 17, 2012



Editor's note: this story has been corrected since originally posted. See the box below for details.


Rainforest in Sumatra

Levi Strauss & Company had issued a new policy that will exclude fiber from controversial sources from its products. The move will effectively bar Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) as a supplier, according to the Rainforest Action Network, a green group that is campaigning to reform APP's sourcing practices, which the NGO says come at the expense of rainforests in Sumatra.

According to a forest products purchasing policy [PDF] posted on its web site last month, but originally drafted in December 2010, Levi's will "not knowingly purchase wood and paper products from endangered forests and other highly controversial sources such as high-risk regions for illegal logging." The clothing-maker will reduce consumption of forest resources by using recycled material, reducing packaging, and giving preference to products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to improve the environmental performance of the forestry sector.

"This will provide the most credible means of sourcing products from forests independently verified as being environmentally and socially well-managed," Levi Strauss & Co. said in a statement. "FSC labeled products also carry assurances of chain-of-custody transparency and minimize risks relating to many controversial sources."

Levi Strauss & Co. also said it would favor paper products processed without chlorine to reduce pollution, and would develop a training program for employees on forest stewardship and environmental sustainability.

The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) welcomed the decision.

"Levi’s forest products purchasing policy sends a clear message to Asia Pulp and Paper that if they want to do business with respected global companies, they must stop destroying rainforests," said Lafcadio Cortesi, Forest Campaign Director at RAN, in a statement. "It is time for APP to stop pulping Indonesia's last rainforests for cheap paper products. Instead APP should support the country's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation."

Levi's earlier stopped buying from PAK 2000, an APP affiliate, due to concerns over deforestation.

APP, a paper products brand that sources from more than a dozen subsidiaries, has been criticized by a wide range of environmental groups in recent years for its forest management practices on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. APP is accused of clearing vast swathes of increasingly rare forest for eucalyptus and acacia plantations. The paper supplier has missed three previous targets for phasing out pulping of natural forests and has lost its FSC certification. For its part, APP says its activities are legal under Indonesian law.

FSC-certification itself is not without controversy. The labeling initiative has faced criticism in recent years for what some have termed lax oversight and reliance on logging practices that degrade primary forests. RAN says that it urges buyers to establish policies that go "above and beyond" FSC standards.

"Certification is a soft policy instrument but we really need to also look at hard policy—the long overdue government policy reforms and changes that are necessary to reduce deforestation in tropical countries," Bill Barclay, RAN's policy director, told mongabay.com during a 2010 interview. "It is important to distinguish between what the FSC can and cannot do. The FSC has policies, for example, related to a company and illegal logging but it is a voluntary initiative with various degrees and quality."

January 18, 2012 Editor's note: The original version of this article implied that Levi's new procurement policy explicitly excluded APP. It does not. Given the oversight, we are posting APP's response to RAN's statement.

While it is Asia Pulp & Paper Group’s policy not to discuss any commercial matters pertaining to our customers, it’s crucial to note that Levi-Strauss (Levi’s) is public in their support of FSC certification, and not that they have not dropped APP, as Mongabay and RAN suggest. This can be seen in the Levi-Strauss’ sustainable forest procurement policy from December 2010 that you link to within your article. Neither Asia Pulp & Paper (nor the country of Indonesia) is specifically mentioned anywhere within the policy.

APP encourages western companies to adopt procurement policies that support sustainable practices in developing countries like Indonesia. We also support a wide range of forest certification schemes, and applaud companies’ efforts to ensure their products adhere to these standards. APP believes that policies that adopt rigorous, globally recognized certification schemes should not exclude the legal and sustainable products coming from countries like Indonesia.


January 26, 2012 UPDATE.

On January 25, 2012, a Levi's spokesperson told just-style it has "no supplier relationship with APP today". Levi's has therefore confirmed that it no longer sources from APP.


February 6, 2012 UPDATE.

On January 27, 2012, the Consumer Alliance for Global Prosperity, a group that advocates on behalf of APP's interests in the United States but does not disclose its funding sources, asserted that our story was "grossly inaccurate". It went on to state that "Mongabay is either complicit, or willfully ignorant." For the record, we believed RAN's claim that "Levi's had dropped APP" to be accurate and indeed, it was later revealed that Levi's had in fact stopped buying from APP. Other points in our story remain accurate and unchallenged.















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CITATION:
mongabay.com (January 17, 2012).

Levi's new forest policy excludes fiber from suppliers linked to deforestation.

http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0117-app_levi_strauss.html