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Organizations offer mixed reaction to Oasis decision

By Kaitlin Mayhew -- kmayhew@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- Reactions were mixed from opposing organizations after Oasis Brands announced that it would no longer be sourcing a portion of its raw paper material from Asia Pulp & Paper.

Currently, APP is the only supplier to both the Strasburg-based Mercury Paper Inc. and the California-based Solaris Paper Inc. that is also managed by Oasis Brands.

Oasis Brands CEO Philip Rundle announced Thursday that the company's line of tissue products sold to retailers would no longer use APP paper, and instead use locally sourced U.S. products.

Some, such as Linda Kramme, a forest expert at the World Wildlife Fund, say they do not think the announcement is enough of a commitment.

She pointed out that a large portion of the products manufactured by Oasis Brands companies will continue to source from APP.

In addition, she said she'd like to see a timeline for when they plan to have both Mercury Paper and Solaris certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, as Rundle had specified.

Kendell Kelton, Oasis Brands representative, said that converting the retail products were the first priority, but they will be releasing additional information regarding the other lines and the FSC certifications in the near future.

Ian Lifshitz, Asia Pulp & Paper sustainability manager for the Americas, expressed desire to regain the lost portion of business from Oasis Brands.

"We regret this decision, but understand the steps Oasis feels it must take to preserve its growth in North America and the valuable jobs it creates in the U.S.," he said. "We sincerely hope to resume our supplier relationship with Oasis sometime in the future."

Audrey Jackson, president of the Virginia chapter of Americans for Prosperity, saw the decision as a mixed victory. She is also active in the Coalition to Protect Virginia Jobs that was launched at the end of 2011 as a collaboration between AFP and the Tea Party organization.

"We are proud that because of our efforts Mercury Paper will remain in Virginia in spite of WWF's attacks," she said. "The priority for WWF is to coerce businesses, and their recent actions prove that they will stop at nothing until companies cave to their anti-free enterprise agenda."

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