Asia Pulp and Paper (APP)

Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), part of the Sinar Mas Group (SMG), is one of the world’s largest producers of pulp and paper, and by far the largest pulp & paper producer operating in Indonesia. APP has historically been responsible for more than 2 million hectares of deforestation and severe impacts on people, biodiversity and the environment in Indonesia, as well as the global climate.

Over the past two decades, these impacts led to local and international NGO campaigns seeking reform and the cancellation of more than 100 business contracts over these concerns. Companies that have announced discontinued or avoided sourcing from APP since 2000 include Adidas, Disney, Fuji, Gucci, Hasbro, Kraft, Lego, Levis, Marks & Spencer, Mattel, Nestlé, Office Depot, Scholastic, Tesco, Tiffany & Co., United Stationers, Unilever, Volkswagen, Wal-Mart, Woolworths, and Xerox.

APP’s products include bleached hardwood pulp, stationary, printing and graphics papers, tissue, paper towels, shopping bags, packaging, and converted products. Its products are sold globally under a variety of brands like Imperia, Enova, Fiora, and Riviera, as well as those of various affiliates and purchaser companies. Other North American subsidiaries and affiliates include Eagle Ridge Paper, Global Paper Solutions, Mercury Paper, PaperMax, and Solaris Paper.

In February 2013, APP responded to years of sustained pressure to reform by adopting a new Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) and a commitment to zero deforestation. In April 2014, APP expanded its commitment to include the protection or restoration of a million hectares of Indonesian rainforest. And in February 2015 APP announced a new implementation plan to address issues raised by an independent evaluation. Actions were announced in August 2015 by APP on the development of peatland management standards, high-tech LIDAR mapping of peatland, and removal and restoration projects on 7,000 hectares of plantations.

The links below provide a central location for global stakeholders to learn more about these commitments and key monitoring reports by international and Indonesian conservation and social organisations. APP has contracted with The Forest Trust to assist its implementation of the FCP as well as support APP to communicate on the progress. APP also enlisted Rainforest Alliance to conduct independent, third-party evaluations of the FCP implementation as well as implementation of selected other public commitments.

Purchaser Guidance: APP’s commitments hold great opportunity to address its legacy of environmental and social impacts and to change its future practices away from deforestation. However, the independent evaluation by the Rainforest Alliance, as well as recent reports by other NGOs, have shown gaps and serious challenges that will require more time to be addressed.

These reports revealed that, while APP suppliers’ own deforestation and new peat development had stopped, deforestation by third parties continues in many of their concessions. Additionally, numerous social conflicts remain unresolved and improved peatland management and landscape restoration plans have yet to be developed. These independent reports on APP’s performance during the last two years, and future monitoring by NGOs, should give good direction for continued learning and improvement by APP. Meanwhile, these reports also indicate additional efforts are needed from government as well to assist towards zero deforestation efforts.

To address the Rainforest Alliance audit, APP developed a FCP Implementation Action Plan for 2015 and Beyond.  In August 2015, APP announced it was partnering with Deltares to develop peatland best practices and map 4.5 million hectares of peatland forest with LiDAR technology. APP also announced the retirement of 7,000 hectares of plantation on peatland for conservation purposes. A collection of NGO responses can be found here.

However, NGO stakeholders have been discouraged by the pace of progress on key issues and by recent changes in stakeholder engagement formats. Many came together to send an open letter to APP on October 6, 2015 conveying their concerns.

Potential business partners and investors must continue to evaluate APP’s performance on implementing its FCP commitments as well as milestones listed in the Environmental Paper Network’s “Performance Milestones for Asia Pulp and Paper’s (APP) Sustainability Roadmap – Vision 2020 and new Forest Conservation Policy.” Companies, investors and other stakeholders should continue to require independent verification of APP’s social and environmental performance of the FCP against the EPN Performance Milestones to assess progress.

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Tracking Progress 1: Independent Monitoring Reports

– Open Letter from NGOs to Asia Pulp and Paper (October 6 2015)
Response from APP <

– Rainforest Alliance: Independent Evaluation of APP Forest Conservation Policy (February 2015)

– Various Organizations: APP’s Performance in Meeting its Social Responsibility Commitment (January 2015)
            > Response from APP <

– Wahana Bumi Hijau – JPIK South Sumatra – Serikat Hijau Indonesia – Yayasan Bakau report on OKI mill (December 2014)

– Greenomics report questioning APP’s wood supply sustainability (November 2014)

– Greenomics report revealing hidden suppliers of APP (February 2014)

– RPHK report on APP supplier’s moratorium violation (December 2013)

– Greenpeace Progress Report on APP Commitment (October 2013)
            > Response from APP <

– Eyes on the Forest report on APP supplier’s moratorium violation (May 2013)

– Eyes on the Forest questioning the value of APP’s FCP (April 2013)

– Greenomics report questioning the value of APP’s FCP (March 2013)

– RPHK report on APP supplier’s moratorium violation (March 2013)

Tracking Progress 2: Websites of NGOs monitoring APP

– Eyes on the Forest website

– WWF’s website on APP and APRIL 

– Greenomics Indonesia

Tracking Progress 3: Information published by APP

– Monitoring Dashboard for APP Forest Conservation Policy

– Forest Conservation Policy Implementation Plan: 2015 and Beyond

– Asia Pulp & Paper website

– Peatland Best Practices Management Programme – partnership with Deltares

Tracking Progress 4: Progress Reports by The Forest Trust

(There have been no progress reports since September 2014)

7th Progress Report (September 2014)

6th Progress Report (May 2014)

5th Progress Report (January 2014)

4th Progress Report (October 2013)

3rd Progress Report (July 2013)

2nd Progress Report (May 2013)

1st Progress Report (March 2013)

Background and Risk Factors

Forest Conversion: APP and its fibre suppliers have caused extensive deforestation, biodiversity loss, and climate impacts in Indonesia, by converting rainforest and peatlands to acacia and eucalyptus plantations. More than 2 million hectares of Indonesian forest have been lost to APP since 1984. Despite previous public commitments by APP to become a 100% plantation wood company by 2004, 2007 and 2009, the annual average speed of forest loss in suppliers’ concessions did not slow down significantly between 1995 and 2011. In February 2013, APP made a commitment to zero deforestation in its Forest Conservation Policy, and a February 2015 independent evaluation by Rainforest Alliance confirmed only plantation wood and no mixed-tropical hardwood at APP mills. However, the evaluation also found extensive third-party clearance of natural forests continues to occur on APP timber concessions and their has been limited progress to control this conversion.

Report: Where Are the Trees?, Eyes on the Forest (April 2013)

Biodiversity Loss:  Habitat loss from conversion is one of the largest threats to orangutans, Sumatran tigers and elephants, ramin trees, and other endangered flora and fauna. Reports indicate that Sinar Mas Group suppliers caused the loss of 1.4 million acres of tiger habitat between 1995 and 2008/09 in one study area alone.

Report: SMG/APP Deforestation and Deadly Human Tiger ConflictEyes on the Forest (2013)

Report: Don’t Flush Tiger Forests, WWF (2012)

Report: Pulp and Paper Giants Show Abject Lack of Concern for Sumatran Tiger, Greenomics (2011)

Climate Change:  Indonesia has been indicated as the world’s third or fourth largest greenhouse gas source, 80% of which stems from deforestation and peatland draining. As of February 2015 the independent evaluation by Rainforest Alliance found that APP had halted new canal development on peatland. However best management practices for peatland management and new Standard Operating Procedures to implement them are yet to be developed. 

Community, Human, and Labor Rights Violations:  The development of APP’s plantations has come at a large cost to indigenous peoples and local communities that have, in many cases, had their customary lands taken, their traditional livelihoods undermined and their human rights violated. The failure of APP and the Indonesian government to respect community rights and recognize land tenure has created hundreds of conflicts between communities and APP across the company’s concession areas. The March 2015 murder of a local farmer and activist in an APP concession in Jambi allegedly at the hands of security guards contracted by APP’s subsidiary is a tragic result of one such conflict. APP’s 2013 Forest Conservation Policy committed to new reforms, and a coalition of international and Indonesian NGOs assess progress in the report below.

Report: APP’s Performance in Meeting its Social Responsibility Commitments (2015)

Letter: 25 NGOs: Letter of protest regarding the murder on APP’s concession in Jambi (2015)

Endangered Forests/High Conservation Value Forests: APP continued to clear areas identified as High Conservation Value Forests up until 2013. These practices and broken promises led to the termination of a working relationship with Rainforest Alliance/Smartwood program in 2007 and disassociation from the Forest Stewardship Council. APP’s 2013 Forest Conservation Policy committed that, “APP and its suppliers will only develop areas that are not forested, as identified through independent HCV and HCS assessments.”  The 2015 Rainforest Alliance evaluation concluded “moderate progress” towards implementing this commitment overall.

Report: APP: Default on Environmental Covenant (2012)

Illegality: In 2012, a year-long investigation by Greenpeace revealed that Asia Pulp and Paper was pulping ramin trees to produce paper. In 2001, Indonesia banned the logging of ramin trees. Ramin is listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and cannot be exported without special permits. APP claims to ensure there is no illegal wood its supply chain and has zero tolerance for illegal wood.  The February 2015 evaluation by Rainforest Alliance cited challenges with controlling third-party illegal logging on APP concessions.