Activists with Rainforest Action Network (RAN) staged a protest today at a Staples store in El Cerrito, Ca to communicate their objection to the office supply giant’s recent decision to resume purchasing paper from Indonesiaâ€™s highly controversial company Asia Pulp and Paper (APP). Staples was one of dozens of major customers to cut APP as a paper supplier due to its well documented involvement in rainforest destruction and human rights abuses in Indonesia.
After successful market campaigns over APP’s ties to deforestation and land grabs began to cost APP a significant portion of its market share, the company issued a Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) in February 2013 promising broad reforms and a halt to further rainforest destruction.
APP is still in the early stages of implementing these environmental and social commitments and has yet to communicate its plans for addressing key gaps in the FCP. These gaps have been summarized in the Environmental Paper NetworksPerformance Targets and Milestones for APP document, endorsed by Greenpeace, WWF, RAN and Indonesian NGO WBH among others.
â€œGiven APP’s track record of broken commitments and the fact that APP has yet to finish environmental studies, put forest conservation plans in place or get independent verification that they are actually working, Staples is jumping the gun by renewing business with APP.â€ said Lafcadio Cortesi, Asia director at Rainforest Action Network. “Our experience suggests that companies are more motivated to undertake robust implementation of commitments if rewarding such implementation comes after, not before, it is carried out and independently verified.”
Fundamental elements of the FCP have yet to be completed or evaluated by key stakeholders or independent verifiers. These include High Conservation Value assessments, High Carbon Stock assessments, peatland studies, conflict mapping and attempts to resolve land conflicts across APP and its suppliers’ concessions.
These field assessments and studies must form the basis for the forest management and conservation plans needed to protect and restore these values. Without them, there is no way to evaluate whether APP’s promises will be reflected in the company’s operations on the ground. Similarly, APP’s commitment to respect the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent of affected communities, including those that will be impacted by APP’s proposed new pulp mill development in South Sumatra, has yet to be implemented and the communities in question have yet to be fully informed or given a chance to give or withhold their consent to the proposed development.