By Kaitlin Mayhew -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- In the wake of Oasis Brands' decision to drop Asia Pulp & Paper as a supplier for one of their lines of tissue products, some organizations are voicing doubts about the sincerity and the motives behind the announcement.
Asia Pulp & Paper is the only raw paper product supplier to Oasis Brands' subsidiary companies, including Solaris Paper Inc., based in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and the Strasburg-based Mercury Paper Inc.
The decision affects the company's Paseo-branded products that are sold to retailers for distribution.
"Intention is not action," said Linda Kramme, forest expert at the World Wildlife Fund. "It is our understanding that there is a large volume of products that they produce at Solaris and Mercury Paper that will still be linked to APP."
Oasis Brands also produces two other lines of tissue products, one sold exclusively to businesses such as hotels or movie theaters and another that produces store-brand products. K-mart for example, used to have a store-brand tissue line manufactured by Oasis Brands' Livi line.
These remaining lines will continue to source from APP until further notice.
Kendell Keaton, Oasis Brands representative, said the call for more assurances that their products are made sustainably has been loudest among their retail customers, "so that is our first priority."
She said they are committed "to a transition that ultimately provides all our customers with the assurances they need that our products are made with sound, sustainable environmental practices."
Kelton was unable to confirm exactly what percentage of Oasis Brands' production that the Paseo products represent, but said that information will be available in the coming weeks.
Philip Rundle, CEO of Oasis Brands, said Thursday that the new raw paper sources for the retail products will be from Forest Stewardship Council certified companies. He said three companies that he is currently in negotiations with are in the process of undergoing the evaluation process.
Kramme, who used to work for FSC, said FSC certified fiber is tree fiber that has been harvested from responsibly managed forests.
"We are always encouraged when any company announces they are going to source FSC fiber," Kramme said. "Frankly, no company can really say that they are going to be FSC certified before they are evaluated by a certifier."
In addition to the sources being certified, Mercury Paper Inc. itself will also have to be evaluated. Kramme said she has seen no timeframe for this, and therefore said she is skeptical.
Kelton said that more information will be released to this effect after contracting the supply.
"We will also announce more specific detail on the domestic provenance and sustainability certification status of the materials -- base paper and pulp -- that we are securing, including the chain of custody certifications, as relevant," she said.
Rolf Skar, senior campaigner for Greenpeace, expressed interest that a press release originally announcing Oasis Brands' intentions was made public around the same time as one of their studies showing that some of APP's paper products made use of an illegal-to-harvest tree species. The press release is dated Feb. 27, and the study by Greenpeace was published March 1.
According to Skar, the report shows with video evidence and lab testing that the ramin tree species was found in APP products. It has been illegal to trade ramin trees commercially since 2001.
"For us this was pretty serious for APP," Skar said. "It's no longer a debate about destroying tiger habitats for toilet paper, now you are in breach of national and international laws. There are not many companies that want to be on the wrong side of that debate."
Kelton said that Oasis Brands is aware of the Greenpeace report, but that it had no bearing on the recent announcement.
"Our decision was made before this discovery," she said. "We made this decision because ... customers wanted more assurance of the sustainability of our tissue products."