Saturday 10 December 2011

Toilet Paper a Threat to Indonesian Rainforests

Joining Lego and Mattel, the Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) corporation's largest Australian customer, IGA, has decided not to source its toiletry tissue products from affiliates of this biggest destroyer of Indonesian rainforests

Gone are the days of recycling the Daily Mirror in the smallest room in the house, but sadly, going along with them, are Indonesia’s awesome rainforests and the magnificent Sumatran tiger. The total market estimate of Australian consumer demand for toiletry tissue products is 300,000 tonnes a year, with toilet paper by far the largest selling item in the range. APP has the capacity to produce 6.9 million tonnes of pulp, paper and packaging annually, so to feed its gargantuan appetite Indonesia is currently clearing over a million hectares of rainforests every year.

The giant Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas owns 100% of APP, and is now the second-largest global producer of palm oil. Hence, while the forests are being flushed down Australian sewers, palm oil plantations are expanding to ensure chocolate and a million other packaged food items maintain our lifestyle in the way to which we have become accustomed.

Someone did the maths and found that toilet paper sold through Woolworths in one year alone would have unrolled to the moon and back 15 times. Yet the same customer survey found that 76% of shoppers choose their toilet paper by appearance and texture. It is not surprising therefore that supermarkets continue to stock the favoured product. But considering its function, and the colossal demand, it hardly seems reasonable for any toilet-paper to be made from pristine bleached paper. Just liking the looks of a roll of white or print paper hanging beside the loo is a pitiful reason for supporting broad-scale rainforest clearing.

For the truly ethical loo-paper shopper, top environmental rated alternatives to buy are Bouquet, Earthwise,  Envirosoft and Save brands. Secondary acceptable brands are Naturale, Earthcare and Softex.

Only by making sensible choices can we, the consumer, follow the leadership of Lego, Mattel and IGA, and not buy products that have come about by massive rainforest destruction.

- P Edwards