Greenpeace claims that global hygiene and health firm Essity is being supplied with wood pulp from logging companies that are clearcutting some of the region’s last remaining old growth trees.

Stretching from Alaska and Canada through to European Russia and Siberia, the Great Northern Forest is the world’s largest carbon storage and contains habitats of vulnerable species such as grey wolf, wolverine and lynx, yet only 3% of it is protected.

Logging and replanting with non-native lodgepole pine is threatening biodiversity in the north of Sweden as well as the livelihoods of the indigenous Sami communities, campaigners insist.

“Forest habitats are complex ecosystems and swapping old growth trees for new ones just isn’t good enough,” Greenpeace UK forests campaigner Jamie Wooley said. “If Essity really cared, it would leave the Great Northern Forest to flourish, rather than allowing it to be flushed down the toilet.”

‘Got to stop’

Greenpeace has derided Velvet’s “three tree promise” that promises to replace three trees for each one it uses.

“Velvet’s clever marketing and ‘three tree promise’ suggests the company cares about the environment and sustainability,” Wooley said. “But its owner, Essity, is sourcing pulp from the last remaining old growth Swedish forests, home to locally endangered species including wolves and lynx. It’s got to stop.”

Essity, which delivers toilet paper to an estimated five million UK customers through its Velvet brand, insists that all fresh wood fibre in its products are PETC or FSC certified, or fulfil the latter’s standard for controlled wood.

An Essity statement read: “Essity requires pulp suppliers to guarantee that they have robust systems and documented procedures in place to ensure traceability and compliance throughout the supply chain.

“Discussions are currently ongoing in the FSC organization to determine how Intact Forest Landscapes are to be included in the certification work. We fully support this work and look forward to the presentation of clear guidelines from the world’s most respected forest certification organization, the FSC.”

See the wood for the trees

Pulp and paper is made out of wood fibres originating from natural forests or pulpwood plantations. Unsustainable logging by some businesses in the pulp and paper industry has degraded forests, accelerated climate change and lead to wildlife loss. 

One of the biggest pulp, paper and packaging firms has taken strides to cease all natural forest clearances within its suppliers and operations and promote best practice working standards for peatland management in Indonesia. Earlier this year, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) outlined progress which has seen the business evolve from a villain in the eyes of green groups to a leading voice for the pulp and paper industry on deforestation.

George Ogleby

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