Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL)

Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited, or APRIL, is Indonesia’s second largest pulp and paper producer. It develops fibre plantations and it is the owner of one of the world’s largest pulp and paper mills. It also has operations in China. APRIL mainly produces bleached hardwood kraft pulp and uncoated, wood-free paper.

APRIL is part of the Indonesian Royal Golden Eagle Group (RGE), owned by Indonesian businessman Sukanto Tanoto, who also owns Toba Pulp Lestari, Sateri, and Asian Agri. Royal Golden Eagle is a holding company which has activities ranging from paper, palm oil, construction, and energy business sectors. It also owns palm oil firm Asian Agri.

APRIL is also the world’s second largest producer of bleached hardwood kraft pulp. In addition to its own paper production, the company’s pulp is used by paper companies in China, Korea, Indonesia, India, Japan, and Europe.

APRIL is based in Singapore, and is part of the Royal Golden Eagle group (RGE), which also includes the affiliated paper companies Asia Symbol, A P Rizhao, Ascend, Asia Pacific Forest Products, Asia Paper, Asia Pacific Rayon (APR), Blue Dot Resources, Canfor April, Florindo, Dmai Fibre, Gold Silk Holdings, Greenpoint Global, Gold Leaf Holdings, Headington Investment, Hibiscus Bay Investment, International Woodchip Corporation, Newmarket Fibre Suppl., Nova, Pacific Eagle, Pacific Pulp, Pacific Viscose, Peiterson Investment, Primeyiel, Adindo Hutani Lestari Anugerah Kertas Utama, Asia Prima Kimiaraya, Berkatnugraha Sinarlestari, Intiguna Primatana, ITCI Hutani Manunggal, Kalimantan Prima Services Indonesia, Kutai Chip Mill, Permata Timur, Riau Andalan Kertas, Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper, Riau Prima Energi, Sumatera Riang Lestari Shandong Asia Pacific SSYMB, Yatai Senbo, Suzhou Ascend Pulp & Paper, Suzhou Industrial Park Asia Pacific

APRIL’s paper products are sold in over 75 countries globally under a variety of brands such as: PaperOne, A Plus, APRIL Premium, ARIA, Ace, All Pass, Artica, Ascend, Asia Symbol, Asiabase, Brand names: B/K, Baishun, Board One, Combat King, Copy & Laser, Crystal, Dunia Mas, Enjoy, Excellent Copy, Gaopinle, Gold Bo, Golden Color, Lazer IT, Noval, PK King Kong, Perfect Print, Pioneer, Premium (Inkjet, Laser, Pre-print+, Script, Riaupulp Acacia, Riaupulp MTH, SSYMB Pulp, Tinkle, To Crown, Ya Wen, Zap

The company’s primary mills are in Indonesia and China, including subsidiary Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP), which operates one of the world’s largest paper mills in Riau Province, Sumatra. APRIL’s fibre is sourced primarily from Indonesia and Latin America. Main brands are PaperOne

Companies directly associated with APRIL include: APRIL Fine Paper Trading Pte Ltd, APRIL Fine Paper Trading Ltd., LwarcelCelulose, Alkira Trading (Macao Commercial Offshore) Limited, Asia Symbol, AP Enterprises (Macao) Commercial Offshore Limited, Primeyield Enterprise Pte Ltd, APRIL Fine Paper Macao Commercial Offshore Limited, APRIL Fine Paper (Guangdong) Co. Ltd.,  Shandong Asia Pacific SSYMB Pulp and Paper, Suzhou Industrial Park Asia Pacific Paper Converting, Suzhou Ascend Pulp & Paper Co., Ltd.

Other companies controlled by APRIL owner Sukanto Tanoto, include Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL), Sateri and Asia Pacific Rayon (APR). TPL is involved in social conflicts with indigenous Batak people in North Sumatra, for converting their ancestral forests that provided them clean watersheds and shelter, medicine, food, and livelihoods. Sateri is the world’s largest producer of viscose staple fibre (VSF), based in China. APR produces rayon for Sateri, in a “fully integrated viscose rayon producer in Asia from plantation to viscose fibre” inside the APRIL mill of Kerinci.

 

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Environmental & social impacts

APRIL started its forestry activities in 1993 and commercial pulp production in 1998. Since then, its paper production has grown at the cost of Indonesian rainforests. The conversion of natural rainforests into tree plantations inevitably reduces the habitat of these species, driving them to extinction. As an example, in 2005 APRIL started to clear the precious rainforests of in Bukit Tigapuluh and Kerumutan landscapes, some of the last habitat of the Sumatran Tiger.

Between 2008-9 and 2011, APRIL suppliers cleared at least 140,000 hectares of natural forests. More than a quarter of all forest loss in the Riau province has been done to provide wood for APRIL mills.

Indigenous people and other local communities have been also massively impacted by APRIL’s forest conversion. Communities that rely on cultivating rubber, sago, and other crops within the forest landscape have been at issue with APRIL since 2009, including on Riau’s Kampar Peninsula and coastal islands, causing some residents to resort to drastic protest measures, including sewing their mouths shut

In 2013, FSC had  “disassociated” itself from APRIL, for that company “being involved in large-scale deforestation activities in Indonesia and bringing negative social and environmental impacts to areas with high conservation values.”

For more detailed analysis of APRIL’s social and environmental risk and its violations of its 2014 forest policy, see this February 2015 Fact Sheet from the European Environmental Paper Network. 

New policy, implementation & failures

In June 2015, after many years of campaigning to stop deforestation by APRIL and after many brands started to avoid their products, APRIL announced a Sustainable Forest Management Policy version 2.0 (SFMP 2.0) (http://www.aprilasia.com/en/sustainability/sustainability-policy), which includes a commitment to zero deforestation and an immediate stop to clearing of natural forests.  The new policy is within a “Sustainability Framework” developed by its parent, RGE Group.

Civil society organisations in the Environmental Paper Network welcomed the move in various tones. But all remain cautious, waiting to look how the policy will be implemented on the ground. Local and international NGOs announced they will be monitoring the implementation of the policy by APRIL.

However, APRIL’s implementation of its own commitments has been unsatisfactory:

Latest developments

Indonesian and International NGOs have been monitoring APRIL’s progress and becoming more and more sceptical. In December 2016, both Greenpeace and WWF broke off their engagement with APRIL , with the final straw being the discovery of 3km of canals through deep peat on Padang Island off the eastern coast of Sumatra, in violation of its own sustainability standards, government regulations and a letter of instruction issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry the previous year asking companies to block existing canals. APRIL remains disassociated from the certification standard FSC.

In December 2017, various NGOs published a new document, Evaluating the Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance Performance of Sinar Mas Group (SMG) and Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) Companies Criteria and Indicators for Assessing and Verifying Performance to set specific measurable performance requirements and independently verify the on-the-ground performance of APP, APRIL and affiliates.  These Performance Verification Criteria and Indicators have been developed to provide a clear framework for APP/Sinar Mas and the APRIL/Royal Golden Eagle groups to be measured against, so that companies and other stakeholders can adequately evaluate performance. In addition, these Criteria and Indicators will inform the critical Forest Stewardship Council process of developing “Roadmaps” toward a possible reversal of their disassociation of APP and APRIL. 

Purchaser Guidance

Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, Canopy, WWF, as well as a number of Indonesian organizations and other members of the Environmental Paper Network encourage buyers and investors to avoid brands and papers containing APRIL fibre and all links to RGE/Royal Eagle Group and the sister company Toba Pulp Lestari, which is also controlled by RGE’s owner, Mr. Sukanto Tanoto.