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.
(09/27/2012) Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) must stop accepting timber sourced from clearance of rainforests and peatlands for its sustainability pact to have any credibility, says Greenpeace.
(09/26/2012) Over the past decade-and-a-half there has arguably been no paper supplier as controversial as Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), an umbrella brand for several Indonesian forestry companies. The paper giant has been dogged by allegations that is destroying key wildlife habitat, driving substantial greenhouse gas emissions through the conversion of peat forests, dispossessing local communities of land, and engaging in a heavy-handed campaign to undermine its critics within Indonesia and abroad. Its reputation hasn’t be helped by its financial record — in 2001 it defaulted on $13.9 billion in debt, making it difficult for APP to raise money for expansion.
(09/06/2012) Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) has established a moratorium on natural forest conversion in Jambi province on the island of Sumatra, according to a report issued by the Indonesian forestry giant.
(08/10/2012) Indonesia’s pulp and paper targets incompatible with green growth goals Indonesia’s ambitious targets for boosting pulp and paper production to make it the world’s lowest-cost producer are at odds with its push for green economic growth should expansion proceed on its current business-as-usual path, said a forestry expert presenting at the annual meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) in Bonito, Brazil.
(02/15/2012) Beleaguered paper giant Asia Pulp & Paper was sharply criticized Wednesday for its claims that its operations are certified sustainable by independent auditors. WWF said its survey of certifiers and certification schemes shows that none apply to ‘the most controversial operations’ of APP’s suppliers: clearing of rainforests and peatlands that are home to endangered tigers, elephants, and orangutans. In responding to complaints from environmentalists that its operations are responsible for large-scale destruction of native forests, APP often touts various certification standards which it says demonstrate its commitment to sustainability. Yet the new WWF survey found that these standards don’t apply across all of the paper giant’s operations — APP’s suppliers in Indonesia continue to harvest and convert natural forests. Nor do the certification standards necessarily prove that APP’s forest management practices are ‘sustainable’.
(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.