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Why Velvet’s claim of protecting forests should be flushed away

Posted by Jamie Woolley - 10th October 2017


Comments have been flooding onto Velvet’s Facebook page, admonishing the company for using pulp from vital parts of the Great Northern Forest in their toilet paper. Customers are appalled that spectacular and important forests are being wiped away for luxury loo roll.

Velvet has been forced to post a statement, claiming there’s nothing wrong with the way their toilet paper is made. But as the evidence shows this isn’t the case, so it’s worth going through the statement to see what’s really going on.

 

Greenpeace recently released a report that suggests Velvet is sourcing fibre from unsustainable sources. This is simply not true.

It is true. Essity, the company that makes Velvet, sources wood pulp from a number of suppliers which are driving the destruction of the Great Northern Forest in Sweden, Russia and Finland. For instance, our research suggests Essity buys pulp from mills in Finland supplied by Metsähallius, a state-owned logging company clearing some of the last old-growth forest outside protected areas, including habitats of endangered species. It also sources pulp from a company in Russia involved in the destruction of intact forests in an area earmarked for formal protection. There’s a lot more detail in the report we published recently.

 

We make Velvet toilet paper using a mix of both virgin fibre and recycled paper. It’s important that we use some virgin fibre to ensure the toilet paper is strong yet soft.

We’re not suggesting virgin fibre shouldn’t be used, but that it comes from responsible sources rather than from companies logging critical forests important for wildlife and Indigenous People’s livelihoods. Although of course, using 100% recycled paper would be even better.

 

100% of the virgin fibre that we use comes from either FSC or PEFC certified or controlled areas in Sweden and the rest of the world. That means all of the fibre used in Velvet toilet paper comes from areas where there is strict guidance in place on upholding and safeguarding principles on biodiversity and forest conservation. These are the highest industry standards in the world.

When properly implemented, FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) forest management standards are the best guarantee that wood and timber have been harvested responsibly. However, like anything, the FSC isn’t perfect and this is one example.Velvet’s products are certified ‘FSC Mix’: this means that for products made only of virgin fibre, at least 30% has to come from FSC-certified forests sources, the rest can come from what are known as ‘controlled’ sources.These controlled sources are deemed to be at low risk of environmental damage, but in this case it doesn’t stop logging companies from destroying forests that have been identified as important for people and wildlife.

 

Greenpeace are members of a forum that includes the FSC, Velvet and several other paper manufacturers where we come together to explore opportunities to strengthen the sustainability of the industry. These talks continue.

We’re always open to discussing solutions, but if those talks don’t lead to action then we need to hold companies to account. Essity is the second-largest tissue company in the world and needs to show leadership in tackling these problems – unfortunately, it’s moving far too slowly to save these critical forests.

 

Far from resting on our laurels, Velvet also works on initiatives such as our Three Trees Promise through which we recently planted our 10 millionth extra new tree.

Planting trees in Brazil is not going to protect forests from being logged in Sweden, Russia and elsewhere.

 

In short, if you use Velvet toilet paper you can be absolutely sure that the paper used to make it comes from suppliers that meet these strict requirements at every step.

The requirements aren’t strict enough, so Essity – and Velvet – need to promise not to use pulp sourced from critical parts of the Great Northern Forest. Sign the petition and tell Velvet what they need to do.

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