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Fuji Xerox suspends APRIL cut sheet paper

Wednesday, 03 August 2011
By Print21
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The impact of deforestation on the survival of the Sumatran tiger brought Indonesian paper manufacturer APRIL into the spotlight and caused it to lose Fuji Xerox as a customer.

Allegations by reporter Matt Brown, that the paper manufacturer is destroying tiger habitat by clearing natural forest for plantation timber, intensified Fuji Xerox’s concern with its Indonesian supplier. As one of two major companies that sell APRIL cut-sheet paper in Australia – the other is Officeworks – it was asked to explain why it continues to stock the products.

In the course of a detailed reply, Fuji Xerox admitted it was concerned with the lack of progress within APRIL to register for FSC certification. The company pointed out that while it may have been easier and potentially less damaging to its brand to walk away as soon as the certification issue was raised, it saw an opportunity as a customer to encourage APRIL along the path of sustainability.
However, Fuji Xerox said it would blacklist APRIL as a supplier in the same manner as it did another Indonesian supplier, APP, in 2004, if the company did not improve. It has now suspended buying paper from APRIL.
[Read the company’s statement here)

A wider assault on the environmental credentials of office paper also threatens Australian Paper’s Reflex brand. Australia’s largest selling cut sheet is battling environmentalists on several fronts. It has secured a one-month extension of its FSC certification with auditor SmartWood, a member of the Rainforest Alliance, saying it needs more time to make a decision. According to a report by Ben Butler in The Age newspaper, the international FSC says it doubts the appropriateness of the last-minute request.

All of Australia’s native forests are listed as having high-conservation value by the FSC. This effectively means that no paper made from any native forest pulp can claim FSC. State-owned logging company, VicForest supplies Australian Paper with wood from native forests.
The turmoil brings into sharp relief the role of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) in being the main environmental certificate for printing paper. Industry analysts question the group’s motivation when it comes to the use of print, pointing out its close relationship with the anti-print World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
As one industry analyst put it…
We all thought that in promoting FSC we were finding an easy way to legitimise our product in an increasingly environmentally aware marketplace. No matter how much marketing FSC has done itself, our industry has done more. Every time one of our staff presents an FSC product to a customer we are reinforcing and spreading their brand. We explain who they are, what they do and why their certification can be relied upon. We have done a great job for them but what have we got in return? I would argue very little.

There is no doubt that the printing and therefore the paper industry needs to have solid environmental certification standards and practice. However, to rely on a certification that is inherently anti-printing is not in the industry’s best interest. Perhaps it is time for the industry to take a closer look at the role of FSC in the continuing unwarranted criticism and attack on sustainable printing.

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