Notorious Indonesian pulp and paper company APRIL has had a chequered history with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). But late last week we heard that the relationship had finally come to an end – and in a most unexpected way.
It all started back in 2008, when APRIL convinced an FSC certifier that it cared about protecting forests. APRIL was allowed to market a number of its products with the FSC logo, so long as they were not made with fibre from 'uncontrolled' sources, such as deforestation.
But after just two years, APRIL's mills in Indonesia lost their FSC certificates, primarily because the company had failed to stop converting natural forest to plantations as promised. However, APRIL's Chinese mills still held the rights to use the FSC logo for some of their products.
Greenpeace, WWF and the Rainforest Action Network decided that APRIL shouldn't be allowed to use the FSC logo to greenwash its destructive activities. In May, we filed a formal complaint with the FSC, asking it to disassociate its brand from all APRIL companies.
We learned last Friday that APRIL had effectively walked out on the FSC's certification scheme before the complaint had even been investigated. Seems the company did not want the scrutiny of the FSC's Policy for Association complaints process.
Given APRIL's history of forest destruction, you have to wonder why the certifiers, SGS, Bureau Veritas and QMI granted the certificates in the first place.
If the FSC wants to stop companies that aren't committed to basic principles of responsible forest management from using its logo as cover, it needs to tighten up its rules - specifically, it needs to strengthen its due diligence procedures as part of its Policy for Association.
This fiasco shows how far some companies will try to avoid the spotlight and wriggle out of their forest crimes. Companies like APRIL can't get away with greenwash: we'll continue to investigate and expose their forest destruction.