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FSC clouds over April’s enviro sunshine

Wednesday, 12 August 2015
By Patrick Howard

Getting the right enviro credential settings is a top priority for the Indonesian paper company as it seeks to leave behind a troubled history.

Goh Lin Piao, managing director, April.

Recovering from a very public stoush with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) a few years ago, April has launched a PR blitz to convince the printing industry it is as environmentally responsible as any producer in the world. In Sydney recently, Goh Lin Piao, managing director of April, detailed the company’s efforts since 2002 to develop a sustainable forest management policy (SFMP).

He laid out April’s PEFC Chain of Custody accreditation in 2010, the first in Indonesia, as a major step forward and promotes April’s high conservation values (HCV) as been world class. The company officially launched its SFMP last year.

April, which exports mostly copy paper to Australia and New Zealand, under different brands and its own Paper One, operates one of the largest single site pulp production lines (2.8 million tonnes per annum) along with with a very fast fine paper machine (820 milllion tpa) at its Sumatra site.

Goh Lin Piao claims by the end of the year the company will only use plantation timber in its paper production while developing an equal amount of conservation areas – he terms it “our one to one commitment.” He has set up a stakeholder advisory committee to oversee the implementation of its sustainability project, which includes among its members, Jeff Sayer, a professor at James Cook University.

He is keen to promote April’s social values with its work among the local Sumatran population, educating and empowering people near its plants. He believes the company is a model of responsible enviro policy.

However, the politics of environmental accreditation in the paper and pulp industry are as tangled and bitter as anything in Canberra. Major brands look for the highest sustainability credentials in their supply chain and in paper and pulp that turns on FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) approval. It’s not the only accreditation in the industry but it has become the most prominent profile and competes with PEFC for the high moral ground in forest protection.

April and FSC are at loggerheads with Goh Lin Piao claiming the organisation doesn’t want to engage with his company. FSC on the other hand refers back to April’s decision to withdraw from FSC in 2013 rather than face scrutiny and criticism following a complaint from such organisations as the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and Rainforest Action. They claimed April and associated companies were responsible for large-scale deforestation activities … in Indonesia.

Despite April now only using plantation forests, FSC rules do not allow certificate holders to convert natural forest to plantations. On that basis, it seems that despite anything the pulp and paper company does from now on, the rift between the two will continue to cast a cloud on April’s environmental sunshine. Whether that matters to paper buyers remains to be seen.




One Response to “FSC clouds over April’s enviro sunshine”

  1. October 14, 2015 at 6:27 pm,

    Ong M.S.

    Final para: ‘despite April now only using plantation forests’. If the company now claims this, I want hard evidence. Their most recent sustainability report 2013-14 is entirely quiet on the issue, but as per their SR 2012 p58 we read their fiber mix included 35% of mixed tropical hardwood obtained from land clearing. And while it comes to outlandish claims, APRIL isn’t alone.

    APP wants us to believe that its planted area of 916.6k ha is sufficient to support 5.9m tons of pulp production capacity, when as recently as 2008 the company claimed to need 640k ha to grow the 11.6m green tons of fibre required for its 2.7m tons of pulp capacity. Quite a Great Leap Forward.

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