Mattel Bows to Greenpeace Pressure on APP Packaging

by | Jun 13, 2011

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Mattel has pledged to create a sustainable procurement policy and directed suppliers to put a freeze on purchases from Asia Pulp & Paper, following Greenpeace protests over the origin of its packaging.

On Tuesday Greenpeace activists unfurled banners on Mattel buildings in several cities, depicting a frowning Ken doll and the caption, “Barbie, it’s over. I don’t date girls that are into deforestation.”

Greenpeace says Mattel sub-supplier Asia Pulp and Paper targets and clears some of Sumatra’s most ecologically important forests, including those designated as a priority for tiger conservation.

Mattel reacted Wednesday on its Facebook page, writing, “Today Mattel launched an investigation into deforestation allegations. While Mattel does not contract directly with [APP parent company] Sinar Mas/APP, we have directed our packaging suppliers to stop sourcing pulp from them as we investigate the allegations. “

It followed this on Friday with the announcement that it is creating a sustainable procurement policy for all Mattel product lines, requiring packaging suppliers to commit to sustainable forestry management practices. The policy will also cover other wood-based products in Mattel’s toy lines, including paper, books and accessories, the company said.

“While we don’t have all the answers yet, we are working to make continual improvements across our business, and that includes packaging,” Mattel said in its announcement. “In fact, earlier this year, Mattel completed a lifecycle assessment of packaging across multiple product lines to identify impacts and opportunities for future improvements.”

Greenpeace said its campaign will continue.

“It’s progress, but they’re not there yet,” the environmental group said on its blog. “Without a policy in place to protect rainforests the investigation has no teeth and the problem has not been solved. Our campaign continues and Ken still hasn’t taken Barbie back.”

This latest campaign is one of many attacks Greenpeace has made on APP. Last year, Carrefour , Tesco, Kraft, Nestlé and Unilever said they were in the process of implementing policies for pulp and paper which would exclude paper products from APP – unless it made substantial improvements to the sustainability of its fiber supplies.

Unilever, Kraft and Nestlé also have canceled contracts with the Sinar Mas group’s palm oil division, also due to Greenpeace’s urging.

Last year, Greenpeace also reported that Staples, Office Depot, Woolworths (Australia), Franklin Covey, Fuji Xerox, Ricoh, Target, Unisource, H&M and Gucci had all decided to stop buying from APP.

Last week APP responded to the Greenpeace allegations, saying in part, “Greenpeace’s allegation that it found mixed tropical hardwood fibers in some products that we might have produced is meaningless. Indonesia’s pulpwood land concessions, legally provided by the Government of Indonesia, include some degraded forests, which are required by law to be developed into plantations…

“As publicly stated, we have set the goal of 100 percent sustainable plantation pulp by 2015… There is absolutely no illegal wood tolerated, nor is high conservation forest (HCV) harvested for pulpwood production.”

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