HarperCollins Accused of Pulping Rainforests

by | Dec 13, 2012

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Rainforest Action Network has launched a campaign urging HarperCollins to end the use of fiber from controversial sources after it said that independent forensic tests found significant quantities of pulp from Indonesian rainforests in several of the publishing company’s books.

Mixed tropical hardwood and high-risk acacia fiber were found in HarperCollins’ bestselling children’s book “Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas,” RAN said. Acacia was also found in HarperCollins titles including “Splat the Cat: The Perfect Present for Mom and Dad” and “Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past,” the environmental group said.

But HarperCollins spokeswoman Erin Crum said the company eliminated the use of Indonesian fiber in February. Any books printed after that date should be compliant, she said.

HarperCollins, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., remains the sole laggard among major US publishers that have refused to make a firm commitment to disallow the use of fiber from rainforests, said RAN. The environmental group said that HarperCollins’ UK division has a more robust policy on sourcing fiber.

Crum strongly disputes RAN’s claims, noting the US company sources paper from the same third-party certified manufacturers and vendors as other major publishers. HarperCollins doesn’t source fiber from Asia Pulp and Paper and Asia Pacific Resources International, two controversial paper giants that RAN has pressured other publishing companies not to use.

The company also plans to institute its own fiber testing, although no timeline has been set, Crum said. HarperCollins has asked RAN to share the results of its testing, so the company can address any anomalies in its supply chain, and the environmental group has so far refused, Crum added.

The publisher is just the latest in a long line of publishing companies to come under fire from RAN. In October, Disney announced it would eliminate paper connected to the destruction of endangered forests and animals from its operations and licensees, while maximizing recycled content and fiber sourced from Forest Stewardship Council-certified forestry operations. The company says its policy is the culmination of two years of conversations between executives and RAN.

Disney is the ninth major US publisher to have worked with RAN to announce rainforest commitments, after Scholastic, Hachette, Pearson/Penguin, Candlewick Press, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Macmillan, Random House and Simon & Schuster.

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