Jakarta. The pulp and paper industry is seeing promising growth ahead, but businesses must step up their implementation of sustainability commitments to meet customer and stakeholder expectations, a leading industry executive has said.
Sihol Aritonang, President Director, PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper, the operating arm of APRIL Group, a leading pulp and paper producer, said “the key is for pulp and paper companies to continue to integrate sustainable management practices into their operations, in line with guidance from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.”
Speaking at a business forum held at the 2020 Expo in Dubai, Aritonang said the global demand for pulp was set to grow by two per cent per annum over the period 2021-2025, while the demand for paper and board was projected to jump from 410 million tons in 2019 to approximately 488 million tons in 2035.
“But the pulp and paper industry globally is subject to increasingly intensive expectations, in terms of the adoption of sustainable operating practices, from customers, financiers, and stakeholders,” he said.
Aritonang said he welcomed the ministry’s support for local businesses to penetrate the sustainability-conscious global market by issuing timber legality verification system (SVLK) certifications. The SVLK verifies whether a timber product comes from legal, sustainable sources.
“The SVLK has helped Indonesian pulp and paper to enter the global market,” he said.
APRIL has extensive plantation and manufacturing operations in Indonesia. The company operates a production-protection model through which conservation areas are protected by sustainably managed plantations. In turn, the plantations and APRIL’s production operations provide funding for ongoing conservation and restoration programs.
“This close proximity enables the resources available in the production area to be used to protect the ecosystem restoration and protected areas. The production-protection approach allows us to keep natural forests intact and provides a good habitat for a range of species, including Sumatran tigers,” Aritonang said.
The model also supports the prevention of forest fires.
“Having the land management resources like forest patrols and fire emergency response teams close to the protected areas allows for synergies. This has contributed to the country’s success in reducing deforestation by mitigating forest fires,” he said.
But implementing sustainability is not only limited to protecting the environment.
“The global pulp and paper industry also demands companies operating in the sector to practice sustainability not only in the environment, but also in the social sphere.”
Last year, APRIL Group launched its APRIL2030 strategy and commitments. One of the four pillars of APRIL2030 is focused on inclusive progress, through which the company is seeking to empower communities through a range of transformative initiatives targeting improved education and access to healthcare, and reductions in extreme poverty and extreme stunting.
Also speaking at the event, Alue Dohong, Vice Minister, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said “together with the country's need for sustainable development, multi-stakeholder engagement, especially with grassroots communities, has hence become a priority.”
The government has also implemented several policies to achieve sustainable development goals while optimizing environmental protection.
This includes the enforcement of a moratorium on new licenses for primary natural forests and peatlands. The government is also seeking to rehabilitate 600,000 hectares of mangrove forests by 2024.
“The government has also enacted the Omnibus Law on job creation, which is a breakthrough that will enhance investment and increase business activities, while maintaining our focus on environmentally sound and sustainable principles,” the vice minister said.