Mattel cuts ties with paper firm over deforestation concern


It’s official: Barbie has broken up with Asia Pulp & Paper Co.

Responding to a campaign by environmental activists at Greenpeace, toy giant Mattel Inc., maker of the famed Barbie doll line, announced Wednesday that it would stop buying paper and packaging that the environmental group has linked to rain forest destruction in Indonesia.

The El Segundo company said it would tell suppliers to avoid wood fiber from companies “that are known to be involved in deforestation.” Among those companies, Greenpeace said in a statement, is Asia Pulp & Paper.


A Mattel spokeswoman confirmed that the new policy in effect bars the paper group from participating in the toy maker’s supply chain.

“We never had a direct relationship with AP&P,” spokeswoman Jules Andres said. “This [policy] directs our printers to not contract with any controversial sources.” She added that Mattel considers AP&P “a controversial source.”

Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace’s campaign to save the forests in Indonesia, applauded Mattel’s move.

“The rain forests of Indonesia should be for species like the Sumatran tiger, not for throwaway toy packaging,” Maitar said in the statement “That’s why it is such good news that Mattel has developed a new paper buying policy.”

Greenpeace has pledged to push other companies, such as Walt Disney Co. and Hasbro Inc., to take similar action to protect rain forests.

Mattel’s move comes after Greenpeace tested packaging from the company’s toys, packaged in Indonesia, and found the cardboard contained significant amounts of timber from Indonesian rain forests.

The group used Mattel’s advertising campaign that featured a “reunion” between Barbie and Ken in June to draw attention to its outsourced Indonesian packaging, sending an activist dressed as Ken and another as Barbie, who drove a pink skip loader, to the company’s corporate office.

They hung a banner from the building that read: “Barbie: It’s Over. I don’t date girls that are into deforestation.”

Mattel’s new policy also includes safeguards against buying wood fiber from tree plantations established in areas where natural forests once stood, a practice that is driving deforestation, Greenpeace said.

The toy maker also said it intends to increase the amount of recycled paper it uses, and to increase the use of wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, a not-for-profit organization that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests.

“Mattel is committed to advancing the use of sustainably sourced paper and wood fiber in our packaging and products,” a statement on the company’s website said. “Mattel will strive to implement these fundamental principles to guide our efforts and maximize, to the extent feasible, the use of post-consumer recycled content and sustainable fiber.”

The company pledged to use only fiber whose source is known and traceable, and which is harvested “in compliance with applicable laws and regulations” locally, nationally and internationally, and in accordance with “international guidelines and treaties to protect the rights of indigenous peoples.”

The company said it would establish specific goals and report on its progress publicly.

Asia Pulp & Paper said it “applauds Mattel’s commitments to recycling, wood legality, protection of High Conservation Value Forest, respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and robust auditing and certification procedures.”

The company added that it “supports all credible industry certification, however, we strongly urge companies to not limit their procurement policies to one standard, in this case FSC, which discriminates against products from Indonesia and other developing markets. APP supports policies that protect both the environment and the vital income which developing countries receive from the pulp and paper industries.”

Indonesia has one of the fastest rates of forest destruction in the world. The Indonesian government estimates that nearly 2.5 million acres of rain forest are being lost every year, according to Greenpeace.