The Paper Contract with China - China Paper Industry Sustainability Forum 2011, held in August, highlighted that responsible procurement and certification systems are critical to achieving sustainable forest management and long-term economic growth for the Asia Pacific region. In the same month, China Forest Certification Council (CFCC) joined Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), the world's largest forest certification organisation. This marks a significant milestone for China towards international recognition of its national forest certification system.
In the latest edition of its ‘Paper Contract with China' (PCwC) quarterly report, APP-China highlights that the Chinese paper industry is obliged to wade through a range of complex and confusing certification schemes currently available in the market while facing two critical issues: shortages of raw materials and the need to minimise negative environmental impact. The PEFC-CFCC move is therefore a big step forward welcomed by China's forestry sector, and the initiatives undertaken by China should eventually serve as reference points for other Asian countries in the pursuit of sustainable forestry management.
Today, some western-based NGOs promote Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and FSC-certified products as the sole standard for sustainable management of the forestry industry. This is a one-sided and misleading message. The very purpose of promoting forest certification standards in the procurement process is to ensure that responsible and sustainable practices are implemented throughout the supply chain, the company says.
But a critical point, which is often ignored, is that it is very difficult to have a single common standard which applies to all parts of the world. Implementation of sustainable practices needs to be adjusted by region, depending on the economic and social conditions which apply. In this regard, many countries have set up their own national systems, such as CFCC, which is tailored to local priorities and forestry situations. According to Zhonglin Tianhe (Beijing) Forest Certification Center (ZTFC), China's first forest certification body, more than 3 million hectares of forests will be CFCC-certified by the end of 2011.
From a global perspective, the two internationally recognised forest certification schemes are FSC and PEFC. In addition, there are dozens of other schemes that have the same bottom line impact in promoting sustainable forestry management. As one of the global leading pulp and paper manufacturers, APP embraces all credible, third-party certification systems, and is committed to working with stakeholders to promote sustainable forest management.
Sophy Huang, PR Director of APP-China, said: "From a market perspective, responsible procurement allows companies to move from a base of legal compliance to pursue environmental certification that meets advanced national or international standards. Beyond that, supply chains should meet forestry certification requirements which balance environmental, social and economic development needs."
Huang added: "It has to be stressed that these forestry certification schemes should be viewed primarily as guidelines for companies; they are not absolute principles to be applied at all times and in all places. True responsible procurement has to adjust to particular circumstances which may go beyond one certification scheme or another."
In addition to examining the role of certification schemes in responsible purchasing, the new issue of the report also provides the latest review of APP-China's sustainability performance since the launch of its upgraded Paper Contract with China 2011 Manifesto in this quarter. Gold Huasheng Paper acquired the Certification on Energy Management (GB/T23331-2009), becoming the first company in Suzhou and one of the first paper companies in China to receive this recognition.
APP-China is also committed to CEO Water Mandate initiative. In August 2011, APP-China and its 6 major mills in China together pledged commitment to UN CEO Water Mandate, including Gold East Paper, Hainan Jinhai Pulp & Paper, Ningbo Zhonghua Paper, Ningbo Asia Pulp & Paper, Gold Huasheng Paper and Gold Hongye Group. APP-China is one of the first pulp and paper manufacturers in China to commit to this mandate.