New owners of Australian Paper to face customer backlash

Friends of the Earth and the Melbourne Water Catchment Network have warned that the Nippon Paper Group, the new owners of Australian Paper, will be under intense pressure from a ‘consumer awareness campaign’ to stop the company sourcing woodchip logs from Melbourne’s water supply catchments.

Melbourne Water Catchment Network
Friends of the Earth Melbourne

MEDIA RELEASE
2 June 2009

New owners of Australian Paper to face customer backlash

Today Friends of the Earth and the Melbourne Water Catchment Network have warned that the Nippon Paper Group, the new owners of Australian Paper, will be under intense pressure from a ‘consumer awareness campaign’ to stop the company sourcing woodchip logs from Melbourne’s water supply catchments.

“So far 15 Local Councils have passed resolutions condemning logging within the Melbourne water supply catchments. These resolutions are based on science that unequivocally shows logging is causing a significant reduction in water supply for Melbourne residents.  These councils represent nearly half of Melbourne’s 4 million residents and we expect the level of council support to continue to grow,” said Simon Birrell, spokesperson for the Melbourne Water Catchment Network.

“Every year for the past 20 years, about three square kilometres of Melbourne’s water catchments have been clearfell logged. About seven out of every ten trees cut down are sent off to the Australian Paper pulp mill to be woodchipped and made into paper products.”

“Melbourne has already lost a huge amount of water because of logging.  Stopping logging today would mean we can begin to reclaim lost water.  In 40 years we would have an extra 16 gigalitres of water every year, that’s enough water for a city of at least 100,000 people.  A logging ban today would help offset water yield losses that that are now expected as a recent of recent bushfires”  said Friends of the Earth spokesperson, Cam Walker.

“The new owners of Australian Paper need to be realistic about whether there will be ongoing consumer support for their paper brands such as Reflex paper.   Melbourne residents resent having to pay significantly increased water rates for expensive and controversial water infrastructure while like the desalination plant and North South pipeline while Australian Paper has been profiting from logging that is reducing the city’s water supply” said Mr Walker.

“The new owners of Australian Paper should be aware that Kleenex’s manufacturers stopped taking woodchip logs from the Otways following a persistent consumer awareness campaign” said Mr Birrell.

“We want dialogue with the new owners.  Their woodchips should come from plantations and forests which are outside the water catchments and less contentious. Their copy paper should be made from 100% recycled sources. We need office paper recycled back into office paper, not cardboard boxes” said Friends of the Earth plantations researcher Anthony Amis.

“Supporters of Australian Paper claim that Melbourne’s water supply catchments should be logged because they will be burnt-out by wildfire.  This approach is totally irresponsible. The State government’s priority must be to protect the Melbourne water supply from the impacts of both wildfire and logging”  concluded Mr Amis.

Simon Birrell 0429 149 472
Cam Walker    0419 338 047