Toilet paper campaign 'misguided'

MARIA SLADE
Last updated 16:43 21/11/2011
Fairfax NZ
PROOF IS IN THE ROLL: Cottonsoft has released its own study showing that the fibre in its toilet rolls comes from standard plantation trees.

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Food and Grocery Council boss Katherine Rich has accused lobby group Greenpeace of "green terrorism" following a campaign about the origins of toilet paper.

Her comments follow research from Greenpeace which found matter from tropical rainforests in toilet paper made by local manufacturer Cottonsoft.

Cottonsoft has now released its own study showing that the fibre in its toilet rolls comes from standard plantation trees such as acacia, eucalypt and Douglas fir.

The company, which is owned by the giant Indonesian corporate Asia Pulp and Paper, says the testing disproves Greenpeace's "misguided and misleading campaign" against it.

Rich said the tactic was a standard formula from Greenpeace.

Like a number of Food and Grocery Council members Cottonsoft had been unfairly scapegoated by the activist organisation as a means of attracting attention and gathering donations.

"It doesn't matter whether it's palm kernels, palm oil or tuna. It's really a case of 'insert issue here'," she said.

"They will exaggerate a particular fact to the point of being misleading, and grab headlines. The company then is in a very difficult position."

This endangered Kiwi jobs, Rich said.

Cottonsoft's corporate affairs director, Steve Nicholson, said independent testing by Covey Consulting showed the company's product contained hardwood and softwood material that was typically grown in pulpwood plantations.

Covey was used to working with fibres of Asian origin, as opposed to the laboratory Greenpeace used, the North American-based Integrated Paper Services (IPS).

"The issue we have is they've used the IPS information in a cut and paste fashion to suit their banner that we trash rainforest," he said.

He conceded the Covey testing could not show whether the wood came from a plantation or not.

Cottonsoft's toilet paper had the international PEFC certification, which meant 70 per cent of the fibre came from PEFC forests, Nicholson said. The rest could come from what was termed "legally non-controversial" areas - for example, rainforest which had already been degraded.

There are no PEFC-certified forests in Indonesia. Instead the country used its own local standard, Nicholson said.

Greenpeace said it stood 100 per cent behind its investigation, which proved that samples of toilet paper manufactured by Cottonsoft contained Indonesian rainforest fibre.

"This is based on both robust forensic testing and years of experience on the ground in Indonesia, documenting deforestation and tracking the companies involved," New Zealand executive director Bunny McDiarmid said.

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"Cottonsoft's parent company Asia Pulp and Paper has been wheeling its huge PR machine around the globe in the past few weeks attacking Greenpeace, as more and more companies decide they don't want to buy into APP's brand of rainforest destruction."

Companies which had dropped APP as a supplier internationally included Kraft, Nestle, Unilever and Tesco, the lobby group said.

"It is Cottonsoft that is endangering the jobs of its workers. There are plenty of sustainable sources of pulp that could be used instead," McDiarmid said.

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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