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APP back into the Australian paper good books

Asian Pulp and Paper (APP) is making a comeback in the Australian print market, but still has a way to go before it convinces its former customers to do business again. Source: ProPrint

Australia’s second biggest paper merchant BJ Ball is the first of the big three to allow APP back saying the industry should continue to support the paper manufacturer’s efforts to ensure sustained progress is made.

Spicers and Doggetts are monitoring developments at APP.

“APP is currently supplying us a high quality range of uncoated products which forms part of our offset offering,” said BJ Ball marketing manager Tony Bertrand.

“We acknowledge the recent work APP has done as well as many other pulp and paper manufacturers across the world in managing forest conservation policy.”

The giant Indonesian APP group is the world’s second biggest paper manufacturer, and until five years ago was a major supplier to the Australian print industry.

However, APP in 2009-2012 after a long campaign by Greenpeace and other NGOs claimed it was engaged in widespread destruction of Indonesian rainforests, it resulted in more than 100 of its major customers, including Australia’s paper merchants, to pull the plug.

In a major positional change, Greenpeace has laid down its arms. Senior campaigner Reece Turner said the organisation is encouraged APP has dealt with the allegations, invested resources into transparency, and acted to rein in loggers.

APP vowed to launch a wide reaching forest conservation policy that included a commitment to zero deforestation, full transparency of its operations, and severe penalties for suppliers found breaking the rules.

While other paper merchants are not willing to say much on the record, they seem to agree APP is making progress, but the revocation of its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification still leaves questions over APP.

“From an environmental positioning point of view, Spicers sees APP no differently to any other international mill group in that a prerequisite for supply is third party verified accreditation under FSC or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC),” said Andy Preece, managing director of Paperlinx Australian subsidiary Spicers.

Gordon Thomas, sales director for AAP’s Australian affiliate Paper Force, said confidence in APP has gradually grown since it announced an end to natural forest clearance.

World Wildlife Fund Australia spokesman Tim Cronin was more guarded than Greenpeace, advising companies to wait for independent, third party verification of APP’s policy implementation.

The FSC has indicated it would consider re-association this year after APP’s progress is independently audited.

Regaining certification is a long and multi-levelled process that starts with independent verification of APP’s reformation, which will be assessed later this year by environmental organisation Rainforest Alliance.

The NGO’s Australian and Oceania representative Anita Neville said internationally recognised Canadian forester Keith Moore will lead an eight member team of foresters, social scientists and carbon experts to study 20 of APP’s 38 concessions, more than one million hectares of the total 2.6 million ha area, for 3-4 months to check the FCP’s implementation.

A ninth team member will assess if APP has enough plantation trees to meet demand now and in the future if their former customers return.

APP managing director of sustainability and stakeholder engagement Aida Greenbury is pleading with the industry to support the company.