Reflex loses environmental certification

1 September 2011

UPDATE: RURAL jobs could be at stake after Australia's largest brand of copy paper no longer has an environmental certification.

Reflex copy paper, manufactured by Australia's biggest mill near Traralgon, is no longer certified by the Forest Stewardship Council .

The loss of the certification centres around Reflex's use of native forest woodchip.

The Maryvale Mill is owned by Japanese company Nippon through subsidiary company Australian Paper and employs more than 1000 locals.

Reflex is Australian Paper's flagship brand.

A spokesman for Australian Paper said the company had initially aimed to have Reflex FSC certified, but was unable to complete a "field verification" before the completion of the FSC audit.

"We did withdraw from the process," the spokesman said.

The Weekly Times revealed the possible loss of Reflex's certification in early June.

Reflex has been the subject of a campaign by environment groups angry at its use of native forest woodchip supplied by Victorian State Government owned logging company VicForests.

The FSC certification has effectively removed all certification from VicForests' woodchip.

The spokesman for Australian Paper said the company was still certified under the Australian Forestry Standard.

FSC chief executive Mike Spencer said the AFS had certified forestry operations "which have trouble meeting our minimum criteria".

The pledge to boycott Reflex has been signed by more than 650 companies.

Environment groups are suggesting one of Australian Paper's other brands, made from plantation woodchips, as an alternative.

Environment groups have also targeted office supplies giant Officeworks in the hope of having the company join the pledge.

Officeworks managing director Mark Ward told The Weekly Times the company had investigated "concerns about the harvesting of timber within native Australian forests".

"We have taken the view that where a viable alternative to native forest harvesting exists it should be used," Mr Ward said.

"Officeworks has a policy of working with suppliers wherever possible to improve their sustainability procedures. We have therefore committed to work with Australian Paper, and other stakeholders, to explore alternative fibre sources in order to reduce industry reliance on native timber."

Some 600,000 cubic metres of native forest woodchips are currently supplied to AP by VicForests annually.

A spokesman for VicForests said Australian Paper’s decision to step out of the certification process regarding a native forest component of its operation was “not related to VicForests’ management practices”.

"VicForests continues to support all of our customers, including Australian Paper, in their efforts to gain their independent certification," the spokesman said.

VicForests remained certified under a different standard, the spokesman said.