Disney drops paper suppliers linked to deforestation

/ Mongabay.com

Disney this week announced sweeping changes to its paper-sourcing policy that will exclude fiber produced via the destruction of tropical rainforests.

Deforestation in Sumatra.
Deforestation in Sumatra. Photo courtesy of RAN.

Disney this week announced sweeping changes to its paper-sourcing policy that will exclude fiber produced via the destruction of tropical rainforests.

The policy comes in response to a campaign by the Rainforest Action Network, an environmental activist group that had targeted Disney for its lack of safeguards to exclude paper produced by two controversial Indonesian suppliers: Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings (APRIL). The paper giants have been linked with destruction of key wildlife habitat on the Indonesian island of Sumatra as well as conflict with local communities. Sumatra lost more than half its natural forest cover since 1985.

The new policy has two phases. The first focuses on paper sourced directly by Disney, which is the largest publisher of children’s books and magazines. The second addresses paper sourced by Disney’s independent licensees.

RAN protest against Disney in 2010. Photo: Margery Epstein

The policy aims to minimize the consumption of paper, including eliminating paper products containing “irresponsibly harvested” fiber like that from wildlife-rich forests, wood from genetically modified tree plantations, and fiber from plantations established after 1994 at the expense of natural forests. Disney says it will maximize recycled content and fiber sourced from companies certified under the Forest Stewardship Council, an eco-standard. Disney will report on its progress on an annual basis.

“The paper policy is an example of how Disney conducts business in an environmentally and socially responsible way, and demonstrates the Company’s commitment to creating a lasting, positive impact on ecosystems and communities worldwide,” said Dr. Beth Stevens, senior vice president, Disney Corporate Citizenship, Environment and Conservation, in a statement.

The policy was immediately welcomed by environmentalists.

“Rainforests are more valuable left standing than being pulped for paper,” said Rebecca Tarbotton, the Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network (RAN), which worked with Disney on the policy. “Disney is adding its voice to the growing chorus of companies demonstrating that there’s no need to sacrifice endangered forests in Indonesia or elsewhere for the paper we use every day.”

“Indonesia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world due, in part, to pulp and paper giants like Asia Pulp and Paper and APRIL,” added Lafcadio Cortesi, RAN’s Asia Director. “Disney’s commitment will reduce the demand for paper made at the expense of rainforests while creating incentives for improved forest management and green growth.”

Disney becomes the ninth major publisher to announce rainforest-friendly paper sourcing policies, according to RAN. Scholastic, Hachette, Pearson/Penguin, Candlewick Press, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Macmillan, Random House, and Simon & Schuster are the others.

RAN says the move by Disney however is particularly significant due to the scale of its operations.

“The new paper policy will be applied to the Company’s entire global operations and those of its supply chain. The commitment includes Disney’s media networks, theme parks, resorts, cruise ships, and all its product packaging, copy paper and book publishing as well as the 3,700 licensees that use Disney characters. It will also influence the operations of 25,000 factories in more than 100 countries that produce Disney products, including 10,000 in China.”

Editor’s note: (Oct 14) APP sent the following statement in response to this story. Mongabay is seeking further clarification on whether APP’s statement applies to Disney licensees.

Contrary to claims made by RAN, Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) does not sell paper products to Disney.

We understand concerns by Disney and RAN about the sustainable management of forests by the pulp and paper industry and similarly value the need to protect Indonesia’s rainforests. To that end, APP is implementing a series of new policies and operational processes under our Sustainability Roadmap Vision 2020 to protect High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF) and to respect the rights of local and indigenous communities.

As of June 1st 2012, all of APP’s owned pulpwood suppliers have ended natural forest clearance and peat land conversion while HCV assessments are performed. Further suspension of natural forest clearance is underway across our independent supplier concessions.

To help bring positive change on the ground we are working closely in both Indonesia and China with The Forest Trust (TFT), which is providing advice, guidance, capacity building and monitoring on issues around High Conservation Value forests, High Carbon Stock forests, peat land clearance, community conflict and other operational issues affecting environmental and social performance. We will continue to keep stakeholders and the wider NGO community updated on our progress and welcome further input.

We welcome Disney, RAN and all interested parties to a constructive dialogue and to review how our policies and their implementation on the ground meet our common objectives of forest protection. By seeing these forest protection policies and their implementation by APP and its suppliers, we hope that Disney and RAN can understand how we will minimise risk for unwanted fibre.

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