'You are just scum': APP staff resort to personal insults about Greenpeace campaigners

Posted by jamie — 18 August 2011 at 11:48am -
Advert placed by APP subsidiary Solaris in Australian newspapers
All rights reserved. Credit: Solaris
Advert placed by APP subsidiary Solaris in Australian newspapers (via Mumbrella)

One of Asia Pulp and Paper's Australian companies has been caught in an embarrassing PR incident, in which clumsy personal attacks on Greenpeace campaigners and others have been traced back to its staff.

While our focus in the UK has been on toy companies like Mattel and Hasbro, our Australian colleagues have also concentrated on a more localised APP connection. One of the major supermarkets - IGA - was one of APP's biggest customers down under, and used APP products to make some of its own-brand toilet paper.

The team have spent some time trying to convince IGA to ditch APP and its Australian affiliate Solaris. Then came the video of a tiger dying within a plantation operated by one of APP's suppliers and just miles from where forest is being cleared to feed APP’s mills. The video and the flurry of supporter emails to the supermarket executives clearly had an impact, and five days later IGA stated that it would no longer be using Solaris for its toilet paper and would find an alternative supplier. IGA still needs to commit to excluding APP from its supply chain entirely, but it's a good step forward.

Solaris clearly wasn't happy at losing such a significant customer, and responded with expensive full-page adverts in newspapers all across Australia aiming to "[set] the record straight on Greenpeace". It's the same list of excuses, misleading statements and, let's be honest, lies about what parent company APP gets up to in Indonesia.

It's worth noting this line in particular – its significance will be apparent when you read what happened next:

We invite Greenpeace to join us at the table and play a constructive role in protecting endangered species.

Now it gets really weird. Mumbrella, an Australian media and marketing website, became suspicious about the nature of some comments posted on its story about the Solaris advert. Many were overtly hostile towards Greenpeace – that's ok, we can take it – but as time went on they became increasingly personal. One went so far as to call one Australian campaigner "scum", while another launched quasi-racist attacks on IGA's management.

Checking into the IP addresses which the comments were posted from, Mumbrella staff discovered something interesting: some hostile comments posted under different names came from computers running on Solaris's network, while many more (also using different names) were from another, unidentified IP address.

According to Mumbrella, the comments were made by a senior member of staff who owned up. How's that for playing a constructive role? And despite issuing a statement condemning the comments made from its computers, Solaris still made a point of bemoaning the "unfair and ungrounded accusations" made by Greenpeace.

So apart from some fairly basic lessons in online etiquette and accountability, what else does this incident reveal? If nothing else, it's indicative of APP's global approach to criticisms levelled against it. Rather than addressing the catastrophic problems it's causing in Indonesia – deforestation on a grand scale, pushing species closer to extinction, creating conflicts with local communities – it prefers to throw up a smokescreen to convince its customers that it is behaving responsibly.

But smokescreens are easily blown away. More and more customers like IGA are judging APP by its deeds, not its words, and walking away.

Find out more about Greenpeace UK's work on forests and our APP campaign:

>> APP rehomes a tiger after cutting down its forest home
>> Why is the world's largest forest certification scheme still standing by APP?
>> Deforestation and violence in the Congo
>> APP spins yet more greenwash with latest advert
>> Kids pen letters to Ken about Barbie's destructive deforestation
>> Lego announces forest plan, but what about Mattel?

Desending into personal attacks like this does nothing but hand Greenpeace victory in the debate, as it shows APP/Solaris have nothing left; no points to make and no valid arguments to put forward in order to justify thier actions in Aisa that have lead to the death of these tigers. All that APP/Solaris have done now is given themselves more things to justify.

 

 

That's absolutely disgusting and not fair at all that the big companies like Solaris paper takes the right to continue to destroy everything without taking of anyone just for making money as BUSINESS IS BUSINESS as the people with monopole always say.

Obviously now they are contract acting putting them in the position as a victim and saying that Greenpeace is providing false accusations, why do you think they contract acting? Because they are loosing money obviously and scare that any one can stop them to make money

Solaris paper said that they are protecting wild animals, how? Pushing them in small area where they'll have a small space to live or maybe capturing them and giving them to the zoo?

No one can stop the big companies like Solaris unfortunately as those people have absolutely no scruple.

I would like to see the proof from any company that claims to 'work alongside' nature...

For the time being it is my understanding that it is not profitable to be ethical.

Their insulting article, "Setting the record straight with Greenpeace", only seems to provoke more critisism and unwanted attention to their selves regarding their unsustainable, awful forestry practices.

They would have been better off to come clean - laying their cards on the table - and actually set the record straight. Instead, we get:

"The plantation area... hasn't been touched by APP's supllier in years and (the tiger incident) was 15km away from any forestry activity."

This openly acknowledges that they are happy to have operations within a known tiger habitat!

The most sickening hypocrisy? They then go on to try to justify their disgusting and unsustainable forestry operations by saying that they have initiatives to 'protect rare and endangered species' (hmmm I wonder why they are rare and endangered?).

About Jamie

I'm one of the editors of the website, and I do a lot of work on the Get Active section, as well as doing web stuff for the forests campaign. I've worked for Greenpeace since 2006 and, coming from a background as a freelance writer and web producer, it's been something of an education to be part of a direct action organisation. I'm from Cumbria originally but now I live in north London - I came to study here and somehow have never left.

My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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