Asia Pulp & Paper Group looks to tree farms for fibre

Company to source 100 percent of fibres from tree farms by 2015

August 22, 2012
by Purchasing b2b staff

TORONTO—Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) plans to source 100 percent of its pulpwood from plantations (tree farms) by 2015, as part of its recently-launched Sustainability Roadmap for 2020 and beyond.

“The old way of gauging a paper product’s sustainability was to look at percent of recycled content, but this should not be the only barometer,” said Ian Lifshitz, North American director of sustainability and public affairs for APP. “Fiber age is equally if not more important. Our business aim is to be wholly reliant on tree farms in Southeast Asia and trees from these plantations can be harvested, re-planted, re-grown and harvested again in just six years. That is obviously in stark contrast to the process of harvesting old-growth trees in North America—a process that takes 70 to 80 years.”

The overall demand for paperboard and related products continues to grow globally and cannot be sustainably supported by harvesting natural forests, APP said. According to Finnish price indexing firm FOEX, global paper and paperboard deliveries may, for the first time, exceed 400 million tons this calendar year. Sustainable tree farms in Southeast Asia enjoy an optimal ecosystem that allows for accelerated growth and shortened maturity cycles compared to trees grown in the Northern Hemisphere. These plantations, the company said, are designed to grow and harvest trees in the same manner as crops such as corn or wheat, ensuring a rapidly-renewable global supply of paper while natural forests remain untouched. Equatorial plantation trees are characterized by young fiber—which is able to absorb carbon more quickly than older trees, according to APP.

“There are so many misconceptions about what it takes to be environmentally conscious,” added Lifshitz. “For example, despite all its benefits, recycling does require intense amounts of energy and chemicals for the de-inking process. The important thing to remember is that trees grow back. In that regard, they should be considered a crop, and nowhere in the world do trees grow faster than in Indonesia and China.”