One of the world's largest paper companies, Asia Pulp & Paper, announced today that it has suspended all "clearing of natural forest" across its Indonesian supply chain. After the company initially said it would end the practice by 2015, the new policy puts the initiative in place immediately.
"This is a major commitment and investment from APP Group. We are doing this for the sustainability of our business and for the benefit of society," said Teguh Ganda Wijaya, chairman of the APP Group, in a statement. "We hope our stakeholders will support our new policy, help us along the way and urge other industry players to follow. APP is a world leader in the pulp and paper business, and we will act as leaders are expected to do."
The move demonstrates the importance of environmental sustainability initiatives and a company's environmental image. Because, as the Financial Times reports, the move is as much a smart business move as it is a goodwill initiative:
While environmental campaigners have attacked APP for years, the loss of an increasing number of global customers unhappy with its environmental policies helped push the company to halt logging in natural forest areas.
Greenpeace claims that companies such as Adidas, Nestlé and Unilever all dropped APP as a packaging supplier. Ms Greenbury acknowledged that the company had lost “quite a lot” of customers but declined to confirm any names.
Greenpeace, which criticized the company for cutting down Indonesia's rainforests, called the move a "breakthrough," not a PR greenwashing stunt. But while Greenpeace has suspended its campaign against the company, it will continue to monitor its implementation of the new policy. "Our advice to former customers of APP reflects that: policy commitments will not be enough – it’s only through their delivery that APP can start to win back the business that it has lost in recent years," said Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace’s forest campaign in Indonesia, in a blog post. APP also says it encourages third-parties, like Greenpeace, to monitor its progress.
If the policy is successfully, The Wall Street Journal reports, it will protect 250,000 acres of forests that APP otherwise has the right to clear.
APP is the third-largest paper producer (by volume) in the world.
Photo: Flickr/Rainforest Action Network