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Greenpeace calls for Paper Excellence to lose its eco certification

CANADA (From news reports) -- Canada's largest pulp-and-paper company should lose sustainability credentials because new information shows how deeply it's linked to an Indonesian conglomerate with a record of rainforest destruction, Greenpeace Canada says.

In a complaint filed Tuesday afternoon, the environmentalist group says a "preponderance of evidence" shows that Paper Excellence is really part of the same business empire as Indonesian behemoth Asia Pulp & Paper, or APP, and that they're both ultimately controlled by the same corporate parent, Jakarta-based Sinar Mas.

Greenpeace says Paper Excellence deserves to lose its association with the international Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as a result, because of the council's rules against being indirectly involved in destructive forestry practices. Paper Excellence disputes the allegations.

The FSC's certification for forestry products is considered the most exacting of several systems companies can use to vouch that their practices are sustainable.

Shane Moffatt, head of Greenpeace Canada's nature and food campaign, said the core of the complaint is that Paper Excellence is a sister company of APP and both are ultimately controlled by Sinar Mas. Greenpeace believes "there is very, very strong evidence" to back up its assertion, he added.

He noted that the FSC severed its relationship with APP in 2007 because it failed to meet the FSC's standards for forestry practices.

"Therefore, in order to be consistent with the policy ... and transparent with the Canadian public, we do believe that, that policy should equally apply to Paper Excellence," he said in an interview.

The FSC's rules state that within 30 days, it has to alert Paper Excellence about Greenpeace's complaint and convene the parties to attempt to mediate an informal resolution. If that doesn't work, a more formal investigative process kicks in.

The FSC's Canadian branch told CBC on Tuesday that it has examined the shareholder ties between the companies "multiple times -- most recently a few weeks ago -- and has concluded each time that there is no majority ownership relationship between APP and Paper Excellence."

And even if it did find a relationship, that doesn't automatically mean Paper Excellence would be kicked out, because companies that commit to "immediately work with the FSC" to correct any wrongs can often hold on to their status, FSC Canada said in an email.

Paper Excellence has more than 40 mills in Canada and the U.S. producing pulp, paper or lumber under the FSC's imprimatur.

The international certification, often seen on reams of printer paper or sheets of plywood, enables forestry companies to command higher prices for their output and attract environmentally conscious brands as customers. Losing it would be a blow to a resource giant that currently manages 22 million hectares of Canadian forest -- an area four times the size of Nova Scotia -- though Paper Excellence also certifies under two other systems considered less exacting.

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