Levi Strauss & Company’s recent public release of its revamped forest products purchasing policy ensures it is not sourcing from the world’s endangered forests. The company’s implementation of the policy makes it the latest major brand that will not be doing business with Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) due to APP’s ongoing involvement in rainforest destruction and human rights abuses in Indonesia. Levi’s policy and implementation come on the heels of a major cancellation with APP subsidiary Mercury Paper by Kroger Corporation, the United States’ largest grocery store owner in late December.
“Levi’s forest products purchasing policy sends a clear message to Asia Pulp and Paper that if they want to do business with respected global companies, they must stop destroying rainforests,” said Lafcadio Cortesi, at Rainforest Action Network. “It is time for APP to stop pulping Indonesia’s last rainforests for cheap paper products. Instead APP should support the country’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation.”
Levi’s new policy covers all wood and paper products purchased by the company and mandates that at all paper purchased by the company be at least 30% post-consumer recycled content, with a goal of 100% whenever possible and when not possible that it be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The procurement policy applies to all of Levi Strauss & Co.’s locations worldwide. It applies to all forest products Levi’s may procure, including paper, product packaging and hangtags, corrugated, construction and decoration materials, and furniture.
RAN and other Indonesian and international organizations have been campaigning to alert corporate customers to the negative social and environmental problems and reputational risk associated with doing business with APP. Over the past several years, a growing list of major brands have dropped their contracts with APP, including major US book publishers Scholastic, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster, leading toy companies Mattel, Hasbro and Lego, fashion giants Gucci and Tiffany and Co., major grocer Kroger, and office supply stores Staples and Office Depot. RAN is currently in negotiations with The Walt Disney Company to create a policy to exclude fiber connected to deforestation from its global supply chains.
Rainforest Action Network first approached Levi’s in 2009 to alert the company to possible controversy in their supply chain linked to APP. Levi’s was responsive to the concerns and worked with RAN to create a new policy to address the most recent forest risks and ensure the company’s forest products purchasing practices do not contribute to deforestation.
Indonesia’s rainforests are among the most biologically and culturally diverse landscapes in the world, and the country’s deforestation rates are among the highest on earth. Logging of natural forests for conversion to pulp plantations, spearheaded by APP and its main competitor APRIL, is a leading threat driving iconic wildlife species like the Sumatran tiger towards extinction. Forest clearing has catapulted Indonesia into the world’s third highest carbon polluting nation. It is estimated that more climate change-causing carbon is released annually from the logging of Indonesia’s forests than all of the cars, trucks, planes and ships in the US combined.
APP is aggressively expanding its business into European and North American markets, including the recent purchase of 5 pulp mills in Canada and others in France and Germany. In the US, APP usually does business under the name of one of its many subsidiary companies. These shell companies, including Eagle Ridge Paper, Global Paper Solutions Inc., Solaris Paper and Mercury Paper are expanding throughout the US and Canada, and many customers are unaware they are actually buying from APP.