INDONESIA – Greenpeace International's claims that Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) packaging contains "Indonesian rainforest fiber" have no scientific basis, according to US-based paper testing company Integrated Paper Services (IPS).
Earlier this year, Greenpeace employed IPS to conduct fibre tests on APP toy packaging in North America and tissue products in New Zealand.
The Amsterdam-based environmental advocacy group then launched a global campaign against global toy companies - including Mattel, Hasbro, and Lego, amongst others – pushing them to stop doing business with APP, on the basis that forensic tests showed "that packaging used by leading toy brands regularly contains Indonesian rainforest fibre.”
However, in a letter to APP dated 25 October 2011, IPS chief executive officer Bruce R. Shafer clarified that Greenpeace’s claims were inaccurate: “IPS is only able to determine the types of fibres present in such samples.
“We have not, and are unable to identify country of origin of the samples. This type of assertion would need to be based on data outside of our findings.
“Therefore we are unable to comment on the credibility of the statements Greenpeace has made regarding country of origin.”
Shafer also noted that “some elements of mixed tropical hardwood” (vessels, not fibres) were found in the samples and that IPS stood by that finding. He added though, that IPS did not conduct any tests to determine whether the samples were actually fibres from recycled material.
APP fights back
In a statement issued by APP Indonesia on 8 June 2011, the paper packaging and products manufacturer stressed that 95% of its packaging materials comes from recycled paper. The remaining 5% is sourced from PEFC certified forests around the world.
In light of IPS’s latest statements, APP managing director Aida Greenbury said, “Greenpeace based its entire global campaign against APP on a single premise: it had commissioned tests which proved that APP products contained Indonesian rainforest fibre.
“The company Greenpeace asked to carry out the tests has admitted this claim cannot be justified."
She added that if there were any MTH materials in the packaging, it is highly likely that 95% came from recycled material or they came from a sustainably managed forest in another part of the world, for example South America.
Recent tests in Australia have confirmed that mixed tropical hardwood (MTH) fibres can come from sustainably managed forests in several tropical regions and that both PEFC and FSC-certified products can contain traces of MTH.
Greenbury added, "We think Greenpeace owes the global toy industry an explanation: it has campaigned against them to stop doing business with both APP and Indonesia on the basis of a completely unsubstantiated and false claim."
APP said they are open to having a constructive dialogue with the leading players in the industry such as Mattel, Lego, and Hasbro, to end the ban on Indonesian products and support a developing country which has made enormous strides to promote the use of legal and sustainable wood products in recent years.
In addition, APP called on IPS to dissociate itself with Greenpeace before any more false claims are made regarding its testing results.
“APP is committed to continuous improvement of its sustainability practices, and wants to work closely with all concerned stakeholders, including NGOs, to support sustainable development in Indonesia,” the company said.