The endangered Bornean orangutan, whose rainforest is under threat © Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP via Getty Images
The endangered Bornean orangutan, whose rainforest is under threat © Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP via Getty Images

RGE Group denies claims of deforestation in group’s supply chain

Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) Group, one of the world’s largest viscose and paper producers, has failed to make good on its high-profile commitment to “no-deforestation” in its supply chain, according to a new NGO report.

The report, which was co-published by five organisations including Greenpeace International and the Environmental Paper Network, says the RGE Group has been using wood sourced from recently deforested areas of Indonesia for its viscose and paper products.

RGE has denied the allegations.

Sergio Baffoni, senior campaign coordinator of the Environmental Paper Network, said: “The RGE Group and its subsidiaries… promised that RGE companies have eliminated deforestation in their supply chains. But this report shows that promise has not been kept.”

RGE was founded in Indonesia but is now based in Singapore. Baffoni accused subsidiaries Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), Sateri, Asia Pacific Rayon and Asia Symbol of relying on supply chain deforestation.

Investigators said they had used satellite imagery to map deforestation and had also reviewed export data, vessel tracking reports and supplier disclosure data to reach their conclusions.

Viscose is used in apparel, textiles and upholstery. The RGE group also produces paper for packaging and tissues.

And the report said that Asia Symbol, RGE’s pulp mill in China, was using wood from companies that have recently cleared large tracts of tropical rainforest in Kalimantan, Borneo. “Much of the rainforest, before it was destroyed, was habitat for endangered Bornean orangutans,” the report said.

The NGOs also accused RGE of using a network of shell companies to control a new mega-scale pulp mill in North Kalimantan in Indonesia, which they said was putting some of the world’s largest remaining rainforests at risk.

Syahrul Fitra, of Greenpeace Indonesia, said: “The Phoenix mill is expected to drive the development of large areas of monoculture pulpwood plantations, placing pressures on natural forests.

“Areas most directly at risk include portions of over 600,000 hectares of tropical rainforest in RGE-linked forestry concessions in South and West Papua, as well as in RGE supplier concessions in Kalimantan.

She said the demand for wood to feed the mill threatened communities in these regions, raised CO2 emissions and hurt biodiversity.

However, RGE denied having “common control” of the companies in Kalimantan.

“We can confirm that no such association, influence or control exists in relation to the two entities mentioned in the EPN report,” said the firm. “It is not therefore possible or appropriate for RGE to comment on matters related to those parties and unrelated to RGE.”

RGE’s statement added: “RGE’s business groups operate in accordance with the RGE sustainability framework, which includes explicit no deforestation commitments, and each business group develops and enforces its own sustainability policies consistent with their operating context and RGE’s overall framework.

“These companies also have ambitious 2030 sustainability targets that aim to contribute to the achievement of national and global goals on climate, nature protection, and sustainable development.”

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