WWF Connects Tiger Habitat Destruction to Toilet Paper

WASHINGTON, DC, February 9, 2012 (ENS) – The increasing number of Americans who use Paseo or Livi brands of toilet tissue are contributing to the destruction of the Indonesian rainforest and tiger habitat, finds a World Wildlife Fund report released Wednesday.

“Don’t Flush Tiger Forests: Toilet Paper, U.S. Supermarkets, and the Destruction of Indonesia’s Last Tiger Habitats” shows that Asia Pulp & Paper, the fifth-largest tissue producer in the world, is rapidly expanding into the U.S. market with paper linked to rainforest destruction.

Products made with fiber from Asia Pulp & Paper, such as toilet paper, paper towels and tissue, are turning up in grocery stores, restaurants, schools and hotels across the country under the Paseo and Livi brand names.

Sumatran tiger in its forest habitat (Photo courtesy Sumatran Tiger Trust)

WWF reports that tissue products made with APP fiber originate from areas still inhabited by Critically Endangered species such as Sumatran tigers, Asian elephants, and orangutans.

There are probably fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild today, according to the UK nonprofit Sumatran Tiger Trust.

Since it began operating in Indonesia in 1984, WWF estimates that Asia Pulp & Paper and its affiliates have pulped nearly five million acres of tropical forest on the island of Sumatra, an area 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 rainforests in Sumatra.”

To produce the report, WWF researched Paseo sales to U.S. 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 rainforest destruction.

As a result, eight large retailers have decided to stop carrying tissue products made with fiber supplied by Asia Pulp & Paper. They are: BI-LO; Brookshire Grocery Company; Delhaize Group, which owns Food Lion stores; Harris Teeter; Kmart; Kroger; SUPERVALU and Weis Markets.

“We applaud the decision by these companies to remove these products from their stores,” said Jan Vertefeuille, head of WWF’s Tiger Campaign.

The 12 companies identified and contacted, but that did not respond or commit to stopping Paseo sales, are: Albertsons LLC, Giant Eagle,Hy-Vee, IGA, Ingles, K-VA-T (sold at Food City), Lowes Food Stores, Marsh, Price Chopper, Roundy’s (sold at Roundy’s, Pick’n Save, Rainbow and Copps), Save Mart and Spartan.

“We urge companies to be responsible stewards of the planet and stop carrying Paseo products until APP stops clearing rainforest,” Kramme said.

Oasis Brands of Winchester, Virginia, which markets Paseo, announced in 2011 that Paseo had become the fastest-growing brand of toilet paper in the United States.

Paseo toilet paper (Photo by HermioneGranger2012)

On Tuesday, the day before the WWF report was published, Oasis Brands issued an open invitation in a letter to U.S. grocery chains to participate in an independent sustainability audit of the key tissue products it supplies to the U.S. market from Indonesia.

Philip Rundle, CEO of Oasis Brands, says the offer of an independent audit is “fully supported by its major supplier in Indonesia, Asia Pulp & Paper.”

“It’s time to introduce more rigorous reporting into this issue, which naturally concerns the U.S. grocery industry,” said Rundle. “Everyone wants the reassurance that the products they buy from Indonesia meet internationally recognized certification standards and are not damaging the precious natural resources of that country.”

“Continuous, rigorous auditing has proven APP products are made from sustainable sources and meet well-established sustainability standards,” said Rundle. “Now we would like the U.S. grocery industry to see the results of such an audit for themselves. We are confident that APP will meet the expectations of U.S. grocers.”

Rundle said he welcomes “constructive feedback” from nongovernmental organizations and other stakeholders to help improve company operations.

But he said, “Calls to action against Indonesian products, especially without verified claims, are unconstructive.”

Rundle said Indonesia needs the jobs that Asia Pulp & Paper creates.

“There is a human element to the overall environmental sustainability cycle of APP that is often overlooked,” he said. “Indonesia is a nation in which nearly 30 million people live below the poverty line, and APP is a key driver of jobs – employing approximately 70,000 people in Indonesia alone – as well as economic development through associated downstream jobs in the communities in which it operates.

In the United States, said Rundle, Oasis Brands and its manufacturing partners Mercury Paper and Solaris Paper employ over 300 people, and their payrolls contribute millions of dollars to local economies in Virginia and California.

Additionally, he said, “Oasis Brands and APP have invited the U.S. grocery industry to participate in APP’s Sustainability Roadmap initiative, which will lay out plans to make APP one of the world’s most sustainable pulp and paper companies by the end of the decade.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2012. All rights reserved.