Woodchip Complaint could help Chipmill close

 Forest campaigners on the far south coast have lodged a complaint against the Japanese paper giant, Nippon Paper Industries, owner of the Eden woodchip mill.

If successful, the complaint would strip the company of certification that gives it an edge in the market place.

Under the certification scheme, bad environmental conduct by one part of a company should be taken into account when assessing eligibility for certification by another part of the company.

The complaint has been lodged by Harriett Swift, who is Deputy Convener of the South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA) and Convenor of Chipstop.

Ms Swift said that the complaint was based on damage to koala habitat “High Conservation Value” forest caused by woodchipping for South East Fibre Exports (SEFE) and exported to Nippon Paper in Japan.

She said that Nippon Paper currently has “Chain of Custody” certification for several of its Japanese paper mills under the Forest Stewardship Council scheme.

While this is not full certification nor a genuine measure of environmentally sound wood procurement, it is often viewed in the market place as a “green” tick.

“I am hopeful that whatever the outcome of the complaint, it will be a wake up call for Nippon Paper and make it realise that the SEFE chipmill is a liability, that it’s more trouble than it’s worth,” she said.

The complaint comes at a time of great uncertainty over the chipmill’s future following 2 years of loss making.

“The chipmill is currently being kept afloat by the largesse of the parent company,” Ms Swift said.

“For over a year now it has been paying higher than market prices for woodchips of lower quality than it could get more cheaply on the open market,” she said.

“SEFE is already a financial liability for Nippon Paper and could be an even bigger one if it causes uncertainty over the ongoing certification of its Japanese mills,” Ms Swift said.

“If Nippon Paper does not care about SEFE being an environmental embarrassment, it will definitely care if it starts costing even more money,” she said.

Read the full complaint: http://nipponpaper.net/FSC%20complaint.pdf

1 September 2013

Contact: Harriett Swift