Company cites A-plus sustainability report; environmental group not impressed
By Kaitlin Mayhew -- email@example.com
STRASBURG -- Mercury Paper Co. says Greenpeace's claims of rainforest destruction in a campaign against its parent company are unfounded.
Philip Rundle, special adviser of corporate and government affairs for Mercury Paper, maintains that the tree pulp harvesting practices of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) are, in fact, environmentally sound.
"I absolutely would tell you that [Greenpeace's claims] are unfounded," he said. "There is a lot of hearsay of APP not using sustainable practices, but [the company] far exceeds the national and international sanctions required of it."
He cited an environmental sustainability report than came out earlier this year that designated APP an A plus rating, the highest available.
"A lot of companies in our industry do not have that high a rating," Rundle said. "It's a big deal for us and something we are proud to present because you cannot doubt the report. What you are doing is doubting all the other big companies that use the same organization.
That organization is the Global Reporting Initiative Co. (GRI), which put together the report.
However, Rolf Skar, senior campaigner for Greenpeace, is not so confident.
"I've heard of GRI before. It's sort of a one-sided standard of reporting. GRI doesn't do an analysis or an independent audit of APP concessions and whether or not there is deforestation happening," he said. "It's about a framework for reporting, they provide more of a process than substance, which is fine, but it doesn't certify the sustainability of a company."
Rundle said that all the land used by APP for its tree plantations in Indonesia is either barren or "deemed unsuitable for almost anything but plantation."
"By replacing this land, it is actually increasing the forest cover in Indonesia," he said. "All of the land that is allocated for tree pulp production is identified by the government of Indonesia as damaged or denuded land already."
Skar said that he has heard this response from APP before, but that Greenpeace has found satellite data, photos and on-the-ground evidence that is "the complete contrary to that."
"It depends on your definition of degraded. Some people's natural rainforest is other people's denuded land," he said. "The fact remains that if you map it out and go to those places you'll see that APP, as they have been doing for years, is driving the destruction of rainforest habitats in Sumatra."
The APP Sustainability Report for 2008 to 2009, states: "Acacia and eucalyptus pulpwood log account for more than 80 percent of our total pulping raw material. There is also a small (and diminishing) percentage of mixed wood residues arising from plantation preparation activities. We aim to be entirely supplied by forest certified wood under the mandatory certification scheme in 2015."
Skar maintains that these "residues," are "a creative euphemism for the diverse mix of hardwood species found in the rainforest."
He also said that the figure shows an increase from 2008 to 2009.
Golden AGRI, a sister company of APP that produces palm oil was the target of a similar campaign by Greenpeace.
Skar said that the communication was similar, that Golden AGRI previously had dismissed Greenpeace's claims until they commissioned an audit and found out that "we were right."
"Now they are working with Greenpeace in the field in Indonesia figuring out which land is appropriate for palm oil plantations," he said. "The question I would like to ask is why can't [APP] do the same thing?"