Victory for Forests: Disney Changes Sourcing On All Its Paper Products, Takes a Stand for Endangered Forests and Animals

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Today, Disney adds its significant voice to the growing chorus of companies demonstrating that there’s no need to sacrifice endangered forests in Indonesia or elsewhere for the paper we use every day. This entertainment giant, which is the world’s biggest publisher of children’s books and magazines, has adopted what may be one of the most far-reaching paper policies ever, including groundbreaking safeguards for the climate and human rights.

RAN began our Disney campaign in 2010 after lab tests found that its children’s books were printed with rainforest fiber from Indonesia. You might remember the vivid protest where Mickey and Minnie Mouse locked themselves to the gates of Disney’s headquarters in May 2011? That risky tactic got the company’s attention. Within a week, Disney senior executives flew to San Francisco to meet with RAN’s forest team. Now, after 18 months of productive negotiations, RAN is standing with Disney as the company announces it will eliminate paper connected to the destruction of endangered forests, human rights violations, and the loss of high carbon value forests.

In practical terms, this significant new paper policy means that Disney will be eliminating paper connected to the destruction of endangered forests and animals from its extensive operations and those of its licensees; it applies to both the way Disney sources and uses paper, reaching every corner of the company’s business. The policy covers everything from the pages of a Marvel comic book in New York and the copy paper at ABC’s headquarters in LA to the packaging of a Mickey doll sold in Moscow.

In the 21st century it is indefensible that any paper still comes from endangered rainforests. And yet, in places like Indonesia, which has one of the most biologically and culturally diverse forests, the pulping of trees for paper is a part of why the country has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. Conservatively, an estimated 2.5 million acres of rainforest are lost in Indonesia per year.

Thanks to this policy, Disney will be joining the growing list of major brands that have cut ties to notorious Indonesian rainforest destroyers and paper giants Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings (APRIL). Disney’s commitment will reduce the demand for paper made at the expense of rainforests while creating incentives for improved forest management and green growth.

So, just how big is this announcement? For a bit of perspective, consider that Disney products are produced in almost 25,000 factories worldwide, 10,000 in China alone. Disney owns a vast media empire including media networks such as ABC and ESPN alongside studios including Pixar and Touchstone, and is the largest licensor of toys and the largest operator of theme parks in the world. All that takes a LOT of paper—none of which can be connected to the destruction of endangered forests and animals in Indonesia or elsewhere.

What excites me most about Disney’s commitment is its depth, affirming that the company will avoid not only tropical deforestation, but also go above and beyond to protect human rights and to recognize the high carbon value of rainforests – two things rarely seen in policies of this kind.

Join me in thanking Disney for taking this stand. It is time every company acknowledge that Rainforests are more valuable left standing than being pulped for paper!

3 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Simone Prince-Eichner says:

    To Whom it May Concern:

    As a citizen with an interest in both environmental and social issues, I am struck by the implications of the Rainforest Alliance Network’s recent press release asking citizens to thank the Disney Corporation for its new environmentally friendly paper sourcing policy. While I applaud both RAN and Disney for igniting the spark of environmental stewardship and enacting real change, the unintended implications of this emphatic “thank you” to Disney beg questions about the integrity of social change in the realm of corporate responsibility.

    Although Disney may have taken action to address environmental issues in paper sourcing, the corporation continues to perpetuate exploitation in other areas, particularly in abusive labor practices. For example, according to the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights,

    In China, young women and men are forced to work 10 to 13 hours a day producing Disney’s children’s books six and seven days a week, working a grueling 60 to 90 hours a week. The workers are paid just 33 to 41 cents an hour, trapping them in misery. It is common for the workers to be cheated of their overtime pay. In some factories, women are denied their legal maternity rights. Eight to 12 workers are housed in primitive dorm rooms sleeping on double level bunk beds and fed horrible food at the factory canteen. Workers often faint from exhaustion and the unbearably stifling heat in the factories. Workers have no health insurance, no pension, no rights. They have no right to freedom of association or to organize. (http://www.globallabourrights.org/reports?id=0425)

    As RAN points out, Disney owns 25,000 factories and is one of the world’s largest corporations. As such, its influence spreads far beyond the environmental implications of paper sourcing. By thanking Disney for its limited improvement of environmental responsibility without mentioning the distance it has yet to go to achieve widespread social responsibility, RAN lends tacit approval to the perpetuation of Disney’s exploitative practices in other areas.

    I understand the desire to acknowledge the positive step Disney has taken and I recognize that there is an incentive to encourage the corporation’s future cooperation with the environmental community. However, by separating environmental responsibility from social responsibility, RAN is passing up an opportunity to strengthen the integrity of the movement for social change as a whole.

    Rather than cultivating Disney’s approval, should we not be providing the public with accurate information about the overarching influence of the corporation – both in terms of its improvements and in terms of the exploitative practices it has yet to address? On behalf of a global world in which environmental and social concerns are intertwined and equally relevant, I encourage RAN to explore the ways in which we might support Disney’s efforts to improve environmental responsibility without painting a falsely rosy picture of the entire corporation.

    Sincerely,
    Simone Prince-Eichner

  2. Janet says:

    Tried to thank Disney but the link doesn’t work from here or in the email.
    Thank you all for your amazing work to achieve this goal.

  3. FSC is highly dependent upon first time industrial primary forest logging to meet market demand. So this decision in no way stops 60 million year old naturally evolved forests from being turned into Disney packaging, only now there are greenwash claims it is sustainable. Hardly reason to rejoice, there is no reason to continue logging old growth forests in this age of mass extinction, abrupt climate change, and ecosystem collapse.
    Dr. Glen Barry

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