ENVIRONMENT

Undercover investigation proves Cottonsoft's link to illegal rainforest destruction

Saturday 3 March 2012, 12:03PM
By Greenpeace New Zealand
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An Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) mill in Indonesia that produced paper used to make Cottonsoft-branded toilet paper sold here in New Zealand has been exposed by a Greenpeace investigation as having regularly milled ramin, a rainforest species protected by both international and Indonesian law (1).
Throughout 2011, many visits were made to APP’s Indah Kiat Perawang mill, Indonesia’s largest pulp mill, where numerous ramin logs were identified, mixed in with other rainforest species waiting to be pulped. Samples were taken from 46 of these logs and were confirmed to be ramin by the internationally-recognised Institute of Wood Technology and Wood Biology, vTI, at the University of Hamburg, Germany.

Last year Greenpeace released the results of two rounds of independent testing that found that Cottonsoft-branded toilet paper, bought in a Wellington Countdown supermarket, contained rainforest fibres. The samples taken were made from paper from the Indah Kiat Perawang mill.

“Greenpeace has caught Asia Pulp and Paper red-handed – this investigation shows APP’s main pulp mill is often riddled with illegal ramin. This makes a mockery of their public claim to have a ‘zero tolerance’ for illegal timber,” says Bustar Maitar, Head of the Forests Campaign for Greenpeace Indonesia.

Greenpeace mapping analysis shows that since the logging of ramin was banned in 2001, at least 180,000 hectares of Sumatran peat swamp forests have been cleared in concessions now controlled by APP – an area more than twice the size of New York City.

These forests are a critical habitat for endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger, of which only 400 remain in the wild.

Independent testing and supply chain research into paper products from companies including Xerox and National Geographic show that they contain Indonesian rainforest fibre. These companies’ products were manufactured using paper from APP mills supplied by Indah Kiat Perawang, the same mill implicated in APP’s illegal ramin scandal.

Maitar continued: “APP is undermining the rule of law in Indonesia. Greenpeace is calling on the Government to immediately seize all illegal ramin in APP’s operations in Indonesia. The evidence has been provided to authorities to assist in their efforts to improve governance in the forest sector.”

Greenpeace New Zealand Climate campaigner Nathan Argent says: “APP, and Cottonsoft, its subsidiary, have once again been linked to rainforest clearance. It’s a fact: Buying Cottonsoft products helps fund habitat destruction, and contributes to the climate crisis,” says Argent.

“Any company buying from APP, such as Progressive Enterprises, the owners of the Countdown brand - should distance themselves from this scandal, and stop buying from APP or its subsidaries, until they clean up their act,” Argent says.

Greenpeace supports a ban on further clearance of peat swamp forests, as proposed in an official report on ramin protection by the Indonesian government department that is responsible for protecting ramin. APP’s sister company, the palm oil company GAR, is already implementing  a policy to end deforestation, including ending peat swamp forest clearance.

The evidence that has been compiled by Greenpeace has been handed to the Ministry of Forestry and will also be passed to the police in Indonesia.