EPN’s 2016 Annual Report now available

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The annual report summarising the activities of the Environmental Paper Network is now online here: EPN 2016 annual report final

This report summarises our activities around the world, other than in North America and China, where are sister network’s manage their own affairs.

It was a good year for the network, with more resources and joint activity than ever before, although there are some worrying signs that the paper industry is not accelerating towards achieving our vision as much as we would like. In Indonesia, for example, we need to see much more progress by the industry in implementing their promises to protect the environment and respect local communities.

So, we still have our work cut out for us, and we will continue working with our tiny budget and our enormous passion for the coming year.

Open Letter From Indonesian NGOs to the Government of The Republic of Indonesia, Buyers, Customers, and Banks of Companies Related to Forest Fires in Indonesia

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Forest fires Indonesia continue to burn on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, and are on track to release more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire US economy this year. Today, a coalition of Indonesian NGOs today sent an open letter to the government and to international buyers of pulp and paper and palm oil from Indonesia.

“It is now more than 100 days that people in Sumatra and Kalimantan suffered from uncontrollable haze” says the letter. The haze is coming from forest fires related to forest conversion and plantation management, especially on dried peat soil, and exacerbated by El Nino.

While the forest fires have burned 1.7 millions hectares, releasing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, people are forced to live in an atmosphere heavily polluted by sulfur-dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, causing respiratory illness, especially to small children.

“In Palangkaraya, on September 25, the pollution index reached 2,300, forcing people to wear masks in their home” says the letter. Schools are closed, airports works discontinuously, and even the neighbors countries, such as Singapore are affected by the haze.

According to satellite data, says the letter, such fires have mostly occured in the concessions of large companies, notably the pulp plantation linked to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP). Four APP suppliers have received a “Preventive Measures Notice” from the Government of Singapore for potential violations of Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, while some of them are being investigated by the Indonesian authorities.

Forest fires are also located in the concessions of APP competitor, Asia Pacific Resources Limited (APRIL) and to palm oil plantations, such as those controlled by Golden Agri Resources (GAR, sister company of APP), Wilmar and CARGIL.

The letter demand to the government to stop issuing permits for pulp and palm oil plantations and to convict the companies linked to forest fires. The NGOs also ask to buyers and investor to stop any business with the companies involved in forest fires.

Download the letter in English here. 

Banks beware of financing deforestation

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Over recent months we have been drawing the attention of banks known to finance Indonesian paper company, APRIL, to the company’s dire record of deforestation and social conflicts in Sumatra, and its failure to restrain its activity to conform even with its own weak policy. Some European banks have listened, and have committed to avoid future loans, unless APRIL makes dramatic improvements to its fibre sourcing policy and implements it properly. We have been particularly encouraged by Santander and ABN AMRO, who have made such commitments.

Last week we helped to organise a joint action around the Credit Suisse Annual General Meeting (AGM), with the Bruno Manser Fund, Greenpeace, Banktrack, and two Indonesian NGOs, Jikalahari and JMGR. We wrote to tennis star and Credit Suisse ‘brand ambassador’ Roger Federer urging him to help stop Credit Suisse from funding deforestation in Indonesia.

One day before the AGM we handed over the more than 24,000 signatures collected by the Greenpeace petition regarding CS’s involvement with APRIL. We also held a small banner protest outside the bank, followed by a meeting inside. We had a prominent banner outside the AGM and were able to ask questions at the shareholders’ meeting. After asking questions, our Indonesian colleagues gave the bankers a present: a bit of Indonesian peat. Although the bank has made no public statement we feel reassured that those responsible for the risks of the bank’s investments now understand clearly how much is at stake if they continue to finance deforestation in Sumatra.

See here, here, here and here for coverage.

Is this Peak Paper?

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A report published by the World Watch Institute’s Vital Signs project, entitled Paper Production Levels Off, suggests that global paper consumption may have peaked. In 2011 it reached 400 million tonnes, but 2013 figures are slightly below that (397.6 million tonnes).

The top priorty for our network, and the first pillar of our Global Paper Vision is to reduce consumption and ensure fair access to paper. In rich countries we use far more than our fair share of this precious commodity. We want everyone on earth to access the benefits paper can bring to literacy, democracy and hygiene, without increasing overall production, but this is only possible if people reduce the amount of paper we use in Europe, North America and other high-consumption parts of the world.

There are now signs that paper use is dropping in some countries, largely as a result of a shift to digital, and even China’s rapid consumption growth seems to have stopped. This vindicates our insistence on the need for and feasibility of an end to growth of global paper consumption. We believe that more people benefiting from paper does not need to mean more paper being used overall.

An end to the growth in paper use is necessary, coupled with an increase in the content of recycled fibre and agricultural residues, in order to reduce pressure for wood. There is increased demand on forests for biomass energy and agricultural use, amongst other things, and it is dubious whether there is enough forest to go round without major cuts in consumption.

An end to growth in paper use shows that peaking consumption is possible. Is this ‘the end of more’? Let’s hope so!

Financing APRIL in Indonesia is not acceptable

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As we have highlighted in recent posts, Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) is responsible for substantial deforestation in Indonesia, causing social conflict and greenhouse gas emissions. In partnership with BankTrack, our pulp finance working group has researched the main banks involved with APRIL and then systematically contacted them asking them to divest. You can read our research results on BankTrack’s blog here: http://blog.banktrack.org/?p=522. 

April-Banks(Note: values for ABN Amro, China Development, CITC, Santander and West LB are estimated based on the assumption that banks took an equal share in one loan, for which individual bank contributions are not known. Also, note that West LB has been succeeded by Portigon Financial Services AG as of June 2012.)

This work has recently achieved good coverage by the media, see for example, here: http://news.mongabay.com/2015/0218-banks-financing-april-indonesia.html

Some of the banks have assured us that they will have nothing to do with APRIL, and today we are very pleased by the announcement by Santander (see http://news.mongabay.com/2015/0224-banco-santander-april.html)  that they will make a withdrawal from their association with APRIL unless the company stops deforesting. Santander has recently been the target of a Greenpeace campaign. This video shows why.

We will continue to support our member organisations in their campaigning to ensure that banks have policies to avoid financing forest destruction, and to divest from the worst perpetrators, such as APRIL. Watch this space.

New factsheet shows forest destruction and social conflict caused by APRIL in Indonesia

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A new factsheet summarising the impacts of Indonesia’s second biggest pulp and paper company, APRIL, is now available here: APRIL monitoring factsheet Feb 2015

The factsheet draws together evidence from NGOs in Indonesia who have been monitoring APRIL’s activities, and it reveals significant problems linked to the company including deforestation, release of carbon from deep peat soils, social conflict and corruption. Many of our member organisations are calling on APRIL to cease deforestation, immediately, and to strengthen its currently weak forest and social policies.

Research carried out jointly with BankTrack has identified several banks that provide financial services to APRIL, including Santander, ABN Amro, Credit Suisse and a number of Chinese and other East Asian banks. Our member organisations continue to put pressure on these banks to divest from the company and its affiliates in the Royal Eagle Group. Read more on Mongabay.

APRIL’s policy anniversary without real gain, as deforestation continues

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One year ago the second largest Indonesian paper company APRIL published a “Sustainable Forest Management Policy”, to try to regain customers it had lost because of its unsustainable impacts on the environment, on local communities and on the global climate. But NGOs say the policy doesn’t address APRIL’s impacts, and has not even been properly implemented. Deforestation and social conflict continues.

‘After one year, we really do not see the significance of their policy. The commitments and the realities do not make sense. They are simply implementing business as usual,’ said Muslim Rasyid, Coordinator of Jikalahari, in a note published by Eyes on the Forest.

‘APRIL in 2011 already told Government its expanded pulp mill would no longer source any MTH by the end of 2014. APRIL should simply realize that plan. Pushing its zero MTH target year to 2019 may suggest that APRIL either is producing more pulp than legally authorized or its plantations are performing very poorly. We need full disclosure,’ said Muslim.

Field reports from Sumatra and Borneo have repeatedly exposed APRIL suppliers continuing deforestation in breach of the new policy. NGO findings are confirmed by an independent audit commissioned by APRIL’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee commissioned to KPMG, to report on APRIL’s progress on its commitments. According to an Update for APRIL customers released by Greenpeace: “The KPMG audit found that not a single concession complied with the policy”  (the audit is not public but has been leaked anonymously). The audit also found that in the first half of 2014, APRIL received some 50,000 cubic metres of rainforest timber from concessions that had not been assessed to find out if they have any High Conservation Value. Yet, according to Greenpeace, in those months, APRIL’s Sumatra mill pulped 1.3 million cubic metres of mixed tropical hardwood timber from Indonesia’s rainforests.

Aditya Bayunanda of WWF-Indonesia said, ‘We question the real conservation benefit of the implementation of this policy. APRIL’s HCV protection process continues to be flawed and NGOs continue to find natural forest clearance and canal developments by APRIL without HCV Resource Network peer-reviewed assessment.’

There has also been no progress on social conflict resolution. According to NGOs, there is no clarity and no stakeholder consultation on how APRIL will realize its forest restoration commitment. There are many unanswered questions around their Kampar and Pulau Padang projects. Yet APRIL was authorized by government to increase its RAPP (Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper) mill pulp production capacity, based on a 2011 environmental impact assessment (KA-ANDAL). This report specifies that capacity would increase to 2.7 million tons per year.
Syamsul Rusdi of RPHK said, ‘We again call on APRIL not to include government mandated conservation areas in its 500,000 ha restoration target. APRIL has to address its devastating legacy above and beyond what is required by law,” Bayunanda said. “We are disappointed by the ‘stakeholder engagement’ practiced by APRIL. Regarding the continued deforestation by APRIL’s supplier in East Kalimantan, PT. Adindo Hutani Lestari, APRIL conducted one joint field verification with us in May, but then ended its engagement. The supplier continues to clear natural forest on deep peat in violation of government regulations and APRIL‟s policy today, without a HCV Resource Network reviewed assessment.’

NGOs called on APRIL to stop natural forest clearance and peat canal development immediately, to improve its policy and make a full commitment to forest and peatland protection.

 

EEPN forms partnership with BankTrack

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The European Environmental Paper Network has formed a partnership with BankTrack, to further our aim to stop irresponsible investment in pulp mill developments. BankTrack is a network of organisations campaigning for reform of the banking sector. Its secretariat, based in the Netherlands, has considerable expertise in financial campaigning, and we are delighted to be working with them. As first steps in this process we have formed a pulp finance working group, with a preliminary plan of action and a solid commitment to develop our joint activities.

You can find out more about our interests and priorities in pulp mill finance here.

New paper efficiency case studies and Top Ten Tips

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An updated version of our popular factsheet giving Top Ten Tips for Paper Efficiency is now available here.

We have also published several new case studies of companies and other organisations that have made impressive reductions in costs and environmental impacts through paper efficiency. These include Standard Chartered Bank, which saved €9 million by encouraging its customers to give up paper statements, Vodafone, which has cut its office paper printing by 80%, and Marks and Spencer, which has taken paper efficiency to the heart of its business.  Read more in our Case Study Library.