American companies and consumers are inadvertently contributing to Indonesian rain forest and tiger habitat destruction by buying toilet paper and other tissue products made with fiber from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), according to a World Wildlife Fund report released today.
Don’t Flush Tiger Forests: Toilet Paper, US Supermarkets, and the Destruction of Indonesia’s Last Tiger Habitats finds that APP, the fifth-largest tissue producer in the world, is rapidly expanding into the US market with paper linked to rain forest destruction, originating from areas that are the last home for critically endangered species such as Sumatran tigers, elephants, and orangutans.
Products made with APP fiber, such as toilet paper, paper towels and tissue, are increasingly landing in grocery stores, restaurants, schools and hotels across the country under the Paseo and Livi brand names.
Eight large retailers – BI-LO, Brookshire Grocery Company, Delhaize Group (owner of Food Lion chain), Harris Teeter, Kmart, Kroger, SUPERVALU, and Weis Markets – have decided to stop carrying tissue products made with APP fiber during the last several months.
“We applaud the decision by these companies to remove these products from their stores,” said Jan Vertefeuille, head of WWF’s Tiger Campaign.
Since it began operating in Indonesia in 1984, WWF estimates that APP and its affiliates have pulped nearly 5 million acres of tropical forest on the island of Sumatra, which equals an area roughly the size of 4 million football fields or larger than the state of Massachusetts.
“Consumers shouldn’t have to choose between tigers and toilet paper,” said Linda Kramme, a WWF forest expert. “We’re asking retailers, wholesalers and consumers not to buy Paseo or Livi products until APP stops clearing rain forests in Sumatra.”
Fastest-growing toilet paper brand in the US
APP distributes its tissue, paper and paper-based packaging products through a number of North American-based subsidiaries and affiliates, including Solaris Paper, Mercury Paper, Paper Excellence, Global Paper Solutions, and Eagle Ridge Paper.
In recent years, APP has greatly expanded into the US tissue market, including through Paseo and Livi tissue products. Oasis Brands, which markets Paseo, announced in 2011 that Paseo had become the fastest-growing brand of toilet paper in the US Paseo and Livi are also marketed as “away-from-home” products used in public restrooms in restaurants, office buildings, schools and hotels.
“More than 50 percent of shoppers say they consider sustainability when they shop, but Americans may not be aware that products used every day, like paper and tissue, can be linked to devastating impacts on forests in faraway places,” the report states.
To produce the report, WWF researched Paseo sales to US grocery chains and found Paseo products being carried in grocery chains across the country in 2011. WWF contacted 20 grocers sourcing the largest amounts of Paseo to make them aware of Paseo’s link to rain forest destruction.
The 12 companies identified and contacted, but that did not respond or commit to stopping Paseo sales, are:
• Albertsons LLC
• Giant Eagle
• K-VA-T (sold at Food City)
• Lowes Food Stores
• Price Chopper
• Roundy’s (sold at Roundy’s, Pick’n Save, Rainbow and Copps)
• Save Mart
“We urge companies to be responsible stewards of the planet and stop carrying Paseo products until APP stops clearing rain forest,” Kramme said.
Trying to improve the pulp and paper sector
Paseo is produced with pulp from APP, a subsidiary of China-based Sinar Mas Group and one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies. APP owns two pulp mills on the Indonesian island of Sumatra – one of them among the world’s largest – and is responsible for more deforestation in Sumatra than any other company, according to field investigations, government data and satellite imagery.
The research into APP and its Paseo and Livi tissue paper brands is part of efforts by WWF to encourage a more responsible pulp and paper sector, specifically by addressing the increase in the United States of pulp and paper products produced with rain forest fiber or from plantation fiber from converted rain forest.
WWF is working to ensure that North American paper sourcing no longer negatively impacts Indonesian natural forests and instead drives demand for paper from responsibly developed and managed Indonesian plantations. WWF also is working with other Indonesian pulp and paper producers willing to adopt better practices to bring more options to the marketplace.
Many responsible companies are already showing leadership. One of the easiest ways that companies and consumers can help is by buying tissue products made with fiber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or 100 percent recycled fiber to ensure they aren’t contributing to forest destruction, and urging retailers to stop selling brands linked to destructive practices.
To download the report and learn more about WWF’s tissue campaign, please visit www.worldwildlife.org/tp.