Controversial paper firm APRIL hunts for global PR support
This story is also posted to the Holmes Report website here
One of Asia’s largest paper producers is seeking a PR agency to help it rebuild its relationships with international NGOs, just weeks after having its green certification suspended.
Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL) is understood to have briefed a handful of global agencies out of its headquarters in Singapore. Sources involved in the process told the Holmes Report that the privately-owned company is looking for NGO engagement, along with advice on corporate reputation and sustainability.
Last month, the Rainforest Alliance suspended Forestry Stewardship Council Controlled Wood certification for APRIL’s operations in Indonesia, where the company runs one of the world’s largest paper mills. A joint statement from Rainforest Alliance and APRIL pointed to ‘environmental and social issues’ that needed to be addressed, as explained further in this Reuters’ story.
The certification exists to prove that companies are not using wood sourcing illegally or from high conservation value forests. It is a key requirement for market access to European public procurement departments.
The review also follows high-profile NGO campaigns against Nestle and Sinar Mas, because of the impact the palm oil industry has on Indonesia’s forests and native orangutans. A highly visible Greenpeace initiative recently forced Nestle to announce that it will immediately rid its supply chain of any sources involved in the destruction of rainforests.
APRIL head of comms Ee Poh Luan, who joined the company in January this year, confirmed that the review was underway, but denied that any specific factors were responsible.
“From time to time, APRIL uses external consultancies to assist with our ongoing stakeholder engagement programmes and we are talking to a number of agencies who may be able to work with us on those programmes. That process is not in response to any particular event. We see ongoing communications with key stakeholders as an integral part of our business.”
It is understood the brief includes a focus on European-based NGOs, many of whom provide a critical barometer of a company’s commitment to sustainability. In recent years, APRIL has made a major effort to improve its sustainability practices, including membership of the UN Global Compact.
According to a Hoovers report, APRIL is one of the world’s biggest producers of paper, and owns flagship brand PaperOne. The company also owns operations in China, and is part of the Raju Garuda Mas Group.
The development follows Sinar Mas’ decision to appoint Pelham Bell Pottinger to handle PR for its palm oil arm, Golden Agri-Resources.