APRIL Group Response to Al Jazeera Article
Claims made in a recent Al Jazeera article that APRIL has breached its no deforestation commitments and speculation that APRIL may be indirectly linked to breaches of human rights are incorrect and without any foundation in facts.
APRIL has publicly addressed many of the claims repeated in the article previously, providing statements and fact-based evidence that such claims are baseless. Disappointingly, comprehensive past statements and evidence made available by APRIL in the public domain were only given passing reference in the Al Jazeera article.
The article implies that APRIL had responded to enquiries from the journalist regarding this story. This, too, is incorrect and not in keeping with what we believe a balanced, objective reporting should have included. No such enquiries were received from the journalist or the publication, and we were not provided with an opportunity in advance to address the claims made in the article. Had we been given that opportunity, we would have clearly stated the following and asked that our statements be included in the article.
APRIL’s Strict No Deforestation Commitments Have Been Upheld
We reiterate that APRIL Group is committed to ensuring there is no deforestation in our supply chain and that all commitments made in our Sustainable Forest Management Policy (SFMP 2.0) and our APRIL2030 sustainability agenda are adhered to by the company in all areas where we operate.
APRIL is subject to annual independent third-party audit of adherence to these commitments, and those audits have not found any instances of a breach of our policies regarding deforestation. The audit reports are publicly available on our website. APRIL fibre suppliers are also subject to strict due diligence standards, regular compliance monitoring and annual third-party audit. The list of our suppliers and maps of our land concession are publicly available on APRIL’s Sustainability Dashboard.
The quote carried in the article from a Canopy spokesperson that “there is active deforestation and significant community conflicts” in our operations is false and Canopy has repeatedly been provided with evidence that this is untrue in the past. Neither Canopy nor the article present any verifiable evidence to the contrary. The statements from Canopy in the article are baseless and therefore completely without integrity.
APRIL and Canopy have been engaged in a rigorous dialogue for several years and Canopy is fully aware of APRIL’s no-deforestation policy and adherence to it, along with the commitments APRIL has made to conservation and restoration of natural forest. These include our 1-for-1 pledge to conserve a hectare of forest for every hectare of our plantations, resulting to date in more than 380,000 hectares of conservation and restoration areas under APRIL’s management.
In addition, we are investing up to $15 million annually in conservation, and will achieve net zero carbon emissions from land use, net zero loss of protected areas, and gains in biodiversity and ecosystem values under our APRIL2030 agenda.
Supply of Dissolving Wood Pulp to Sateri
All dissolving wood pulp (DWP) supply provided by APRIL in to China is supplied only to Sateri. APRIL does not supply DWP to any other customer in China. Any insinuation that APRIL’s DWP is sold to companies in Xinjiang is factually incorrect.
Sateri uses DWP to produce viscose products. It has also committed to adhering to policies which recognise and protect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, respecting workers’ rights as defined by the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and national legislation. Sateri also works with relevant stakeholders to implement its commitments related to the protection of forests, peatlands, human and community rights.
Downstream Diversification Will Not Involve Any New Forest Conversion
The article speculates that our growth through downstream diversification at our operations in Riau Province, Indonesia may result in deforestation. This is sheer conjecture and we have publicly committed to that not being the case.
Our downstream diversification in paperboard is fully aligned with our SFMP 2.0 and APRIL2030 commitments announced in November 2020, as well as all legal and regulatory requirements. Fibre supply to meet current and future production capacity will come entirely from plantation fibre, subject to SFMP 2.0 compliance, and will not necessitate or cause any new forest conversion.
The company has adopted a target of a 50% gain in fibre plantation productivity by 2030. Over the past three years, we have gained more productivity from the same land bank, posting a 29% increase in fibre yield. As a result of our commitment to R&D, more than 60% of our total plantation base is now on the higher end of our productivity range. In comparison, improvements in our production processes have reduced fibre required per pulp production ton by up to 10%.
Our growth is based on sustainable intensification, land optimization and the adoption of precision silviculture techniques. On the production side, efficiencies are generated by the vertical integration of our mill and plantation operations, and ongoing R&D in alternative raw materials. This does not require or involve new conversion of forests.
Respect for Human Rights
APRIL Group strictly adheres to a human rights policy which requires we respect human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. We operate legally on concession areas licensed by the Government of Indonesia and respectfully and fairly manage any overlapping land claims in line with the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
Our policies expressly prevent and eliminate all forms of forced labor, apply zero tolerance for child labor and to any inhumane treatment of employees in any form including modern slavery, human trafficking, physical punishment or other abuse.
APRIL’s Human Rights policy includes a commitment to act in accordance with the International Bill of Human Rights, UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, International Labor Organisation’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We also comply with local and national laws, including all relevant treaties ratified by the Government of the Republic of Indonesia. APRIL is guided by and is a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact.
Our Human Rights Policy applies to all employees, business units and legal entities within the APRIL Group. We engage with our suppliers to identify and prevent risks of human rights violations and engage with them on their own human rights approach and broader social impacts. If any violations are proven to have occurred and are brought to our attention, APRIL will encourage those parties to correct the violations and if they do not, APRIL will disengage from those parties.
Our company welcomes scrutiny and recognizes that transparency is essential to trust-building with stakeholders. We encourage visits to our operations, including by the media, to enable ground-truthing and a fair, contextual understanding of any concerns. At our core, we are a science-based, data-driven, professionally managed business and would, therefore, be strongly positioned to address or negate any unfounded, sweeping allegations raised about our operations.