APRIL, the second largest pulp and paper company in Indonesia, has today been threatened with expulsion from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a coalition of some 200 international companies committed to sustainability, unless it can demonstrate that it has ended its role in deforestation, according to Greenpeace.
APRIL’s membership has been put on formal probation and the company has been given twelve months to comply. APRIL’s membership of the WBCSD’s Forest Solutions Group (FSG) has also been suspended, and the WBCSD has recommended that “APRIL consider transferring membership to its parent company — the [Royal Golden Eagle] RGE Group — covering all its various operating units; including prospects of aligning RGE’s other forest industry operations with the FSG membership principles.”
“When an organization led by CEOs of some of the world’s biggest corporations threatens to kick it out of the club, then you would think APRIL would listen. It’s time for APRIL to take this threat seriously and finally implement an immediate moratorium on all further forest clearance. If companies like APP can, then what is APRIL waiting for?” said Phil Aikman, Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace.
Greenpeace wrote to the WBCSD in February 2013 urging them to suspend APRIL’s membership given the company’s current position as Indonesia’s lead driver of deforestation for pulp. Greenpeace has subsequently been in regular communications with the WBCSD Secretariat to provide additional evidence on the ongoing activities of APRIL and its sister companies within the RGE conglomerate. RGE is controlled by Indonesian business tycoon Sukanto Tanoto, whose companies include Toba Pulp Lestari, Asian Agri, Asian Symbol and Sateri.
Recent government data reveal that an incredible 60 percent of fiber supply to APRIL’s pulp mill in Indonesia is rainforest wood. Confidential data indicate that in 2012, APRIL suppliers planned to clear some 60,000 hectares of rainforest (equivalent to 230 soccer fields a day).
“Given APRIL’s recent heavy dependence on rainforest fiber, Greenpeace has serious concerns about APRIL’s commitment to a zero-deforestation policy and any ambition it may have to become 100 percent reliant on plantation fiber,” Aikman said. “Greenpeace will continue to expose APRIL and RGE’s role in forest destruction and cut through the game of smoke and mirrors the company is playing with its customers.”
While APRIL claims it will stop clearing areas of rainforests by the end of 2014, the company has a history of setting artificial targets to ending it role in deforestation. In 2003, APRIL claimed that "by 2008/9 APRIL's tree plantations will be supporting all of the pulp mill's requirement for 2 million tons of pulp production." In 2010, it stated that it planned “to complete the fiber plantation for this area within the next two years.”
In July, APRIL withdrew from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which Greenpeace, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and WWF saw as an attempt to dodge an independent inquiry into the paper company’s deforestation practices in Indonesia.
Last year, APRIL counterpart Asia Pulp & Paper committed to a zero-deforestation policy after losing nearly 100 of its customers. In June, the company released the latest update in its "Vision 2020" sustainability roadmap that provides further insight into its new Forest Conservation Policy (FCP). But the saga continues: As of September, the WWF and other NGOs insisted that APP agree to a list of performance targets in order to improve its current status as one of the world’s most notorious deforesters and back up its commitment to become an environmentally and socially responsible company.