A major New Zealand supermarket chain has asked Cottonsoft to prove its environmental credentials after testing by WWF and Greenpeace revealed the toilet paper maker was using mixed tropical hardwoods sourced from Indonesia’s rainforests in its tissue. reports The Dominion Post.
On Wednesday Foodstuffs demanded that Cottonsoft undertake an independent audit of its environmental impact.
“As an ethical and environmentally concerned business, we believe it is imperative that Cottonsoft demonstrate its products adhere to accepted standards of environmental performance,” said Foodstuffs New Zealand Managing Director Steve Anderson in a statement. “At our request, Cottonsoft has agreed to demonstrate this by obtaining Environmental Choice certification for all toilet tissue products it supplies to our companies.”
The Environmental Choice certification “is designed to assess a product’s environmental impact throughout the supply chain,” according to Foodstuffs, which says it believes the standard “is a robust, scientifically credible and internationally accepted certification process which gives a product strong environmental credentials.”
“Given that Cottonsoft have strenuously denied the claims made by Greenpeace, we believe they should be given the opportunity to prove their credentials stand up under independent scrutiny,” added Anderson.
Foodstuffs’s move comes just days after The Warehouse, another New Zealand supermarket, suspended sales of Cottonsoft products following revelations about its fiber sourcing.
Cottonsoft is owned by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), a China-based paper products brand that sources much of its wood-pulp from the Indonesian island of Sumatra. APP has long been criticized by environmental groups for destroying rainforests and peatlands that store vast amounts of carbon and are a refuge for several critically endangered species, including the Sumatran Tiger.
APP has responded to criticism with an extensive marketing campaign that has included advertisements that attempt to portray the logger as a conservation group as well as the use of questionable PR tactics, including issuing misleading press statements, hiring single-issue paid consultants to write reports refuting environmental complaints and praising APP, and “astroturfing” or creating messaging intended to look as if it is coming from the public or a grassroots movement. APP’s Australian affiliate Solaris was scandalized two weeks ago when it was caught red-handed in the midst of an astroturfing effort. Solaris has since apologized.
In New Zealand, Cottonsoft has responded to the criticism by attacking the credibility of IPS Global, the lab that tested the fiber. Cottonsoft also claimed the green campaign could cost 130 jobs in New Zealand, but was later caught in a lie when pressed on the circumstances around Greenpeace’s initial request to test Cottonsoft products.
“It’s another weak attempt to play the victim which masks the fact that they failed to provide any evidence that their toilet paper was coming from responsible sources,” wrote Greenpeace New Zealand’s Nathan Argent on the Greenpeace blog of Cottonsoft’s inaccurate claim.
Greenpeace and WWF are calling for a boycott of all Cottonsoft products until the company stops sourcing its fiber through destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests.
“We’re asking Cottonsoft to use their influence with APP to immediately commit to an end to rainforest clearance for their pulp and paper products,” wrote Argent. “It is only this sort of commitment that can begin to convince customers and supermarkets that APP is genuinely committed to sustainability.”
(08/21/2011) Solaris, an Australian affiliate of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), has been caught astroturfing an article that repeated criticism of APP from Greenpeace. The article, which appeared on Mumbrella—an Australian media and marketing news site—garnered a multitude of negative comments which were later tracked to IP addresses used by Solaris. Astroturfing is corporate or government messaging falsified as coming from the public or a grassroots movement.
(08/02/2011) A female Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) has been relocated from her threatened rainforest home to Sembilang National Park. According to Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Foundation (YPHS), the tiger had become an issue in its home region due to human and wildlife conflict. The group touted saving the tiger as ‘a significant moment for Sumatran tiger preservation’. However, Greenpeace says that the tiger would never have been a problem if APP were not destroying its habitat.
(07/27/2011) Indonesia’s forests were cleared at a rate of 1.5 million hectares per year between 2000 and 2009, reports a new satellite-based assessment by Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI), an NGO. Expansion of oil palm and wood-pulp plantations were the biggest drivers of deforestation, yet account for a declining share of the national economy. The study, which compared year 2000 data with 2009 Landsat images from NASA, found that Indonesia’s forest cover declined from 103.32 million hectares to 88.17 million hectares in ten years. Since 1950 Indonesia lost more than 46 percent of its forests.
(07/25/2011) Caught in a snare and left for days without access to food and water, a wild Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) perished from its wounds hours after forest officers reached it. As reported by Greenpeace—which photographed and filmed the rescue attempt—the tiger was trapped at the edge of a acacia plantation and remaining forest area actively being logged by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) in Riau Province. Sumatran tigers are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List; the subspecies, restricted to the Indonesian island, is in decline due to large-scale habitat loss and poaching.
(07/07/2011) In response to a campaign by Greenpeace asserting that packaging used for its iconic toy building blocks is contributing to deforestation in Indonesia, the LEGO Group on Thursday announced it is taking steps to reduce the environmental impact of packaging materials and paper used in its products.
(06/07/2011) Some of the world’s largest and most prominent toy-makers are sourcing their packaging materials from companies linked to large-scale destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests, alleges a new report from Greenpeace. The report, How APP is Toying with Extinction, is based on forensic analysis of toy packaging from Mattel, which manufacturers Barbie and Hot Wheels toys; Disney, which makes a variety of toys linked to its movies; Hasbro, which produces GI Joe, Star Wars, and Sesame Street toys and various games like Monopoly and Scrabble; and Lego, which makes the iconic plastic building blocks. The analysis found traces of mixed-tropical hardwood (MTH) and acacia fiber which are principally sourced from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), an umbrella paper products brand that sources from several companies that have been linked to rainforest destruction in Sumatra.
(03/21/2011) Asia Pulp & Paper (China) Investment aims to raise up to 3 billion renminbi ($457 million) through a bond issue, reports IFR Asia.
(03/17/2011) Indonesian environmental groups launched a urgent plea urging the country’s two largest pulp and paper companies not to clear 800,000 hectares of forest and peatland in their concessions in Sumatra. Eyes on the Forest, a coalition of Indonesian NGOs, released maps showing that Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) control blocks of land representing 31 percent of the remaining forest in the province of Riau, one of Sumatra’s most forested provinces. Much of the forest lies on deep peat, which releases large of amount of carbon when drained and cleared for timber plantations.
(01/13/2011) Over the past several years, Asia Pulp & Paper has engaged in a marketing campaign to represent its operations in Sumatra as socially and environmentally sustainable. APP and its agents maintain that industrial pulp and paper production — as practiced in Sumatra — does not result in deforestation, is carbon neutral, helps protect wildlife, and alleviates poverty. While a series of analyses and reports have shown most of these assertions to be false, the final claim has largely not been contested. But is conversion of lowland rainforests for pulp and paper really in Indonesia’s best economic interest?
(11/30/2010) Indonesia’s push to become the world’s largest supplier of palm oil and a major pulp and paper exporter has taken a heavy toll on the rainforests and peatlands of Sumatra, reveals a new assessment of the island’s forest cover by WWF. The assessment, based on analysis of satellite imagery, shows Sumatra has lost nearly half of its natural forest cover since 1985. The island’s forests were cleared and converted at a rate of 542,000 hectares, or 2.1 percent, per year. More than 80 percent of forest loss occurred in lowland areas, where the most biodiverse and carbon-dense ecosystems are found.