With a population of 24 million people, over 60 percent of Taiwan is forested. This gives it twice as much forest as Norway and five times more than Great Britain as a percentage of total land area.
Preserving forests and ensuring environmental sustainability have been a feature of government policies and corporate responsibility, and citizens, having grown accustomed to the abundance of nature, have a high level of awareness for sustainability.
Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Sinar Mas, which has been in Taiwan since 1997, is cognizant of its role in supporting preservation and wants to play a leading role in driving sustainable production through its operations and products.
Angella Lin, a native of Taiwan, joined APP Taiwan in 2012 as Head of Public Relations and knows the business well. Currently its Director for Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement, her portfolio also includes public affairs.
“The government, industry and consumers are working hard to maintain the island’s green credentials by advocating a green lifestyle and contribute to climate mitigation and adaptation efforts.”
She adds that besides strong consumer consciousness of buying green, government regulations are also driving demand for more sustainable products. For example, to reduce plastics usage, the government set limitations on the production and distribution of plastic shopping bags, disposable food containers and utensils from 2020, with the goal of banning such items by 2030. The policy will be extended to plastic packaging from online shopping in July 2023.
On the climate front, Taiwan aims to increase the contribution of renewables in its energy mix to 20 percent by 2025, and reach net-zero by 2050. Step by step, more stringent policies and regulations will be introduced, making it critical for businesses to comply with such laws and act fast to seize opportunities created by this pro-climate and green lifestyle direction.
Even for paper, companies like APP need to develop innovative and green products, with demand for some products such as copy and wrapping paper dropping, while those made from recycled paper seeing an increase.
“APP was the first paper company to launch a Forest Conservation Policy back in 2013 and we held events in Taiwan to share the FCP with stakeholders. We continue to engage stakeholders to share the FCP’s progress and we have gone further by introducing Foopak Bio Natura, an innovative packaging material that is versatile and plastic-free. I am also proud that four of our operations in Taiwan are PEFC-CoC certified. It shows the strong emphasis we place on ensuring our operations and products are sustainable”.
While Foopak Bio Natura is one of the most sustainable paper-based products on the market today and demonstrates APP’s investment in and commitment towards sustainable actions, its Copy Mate-recycled copy paper also received the GREEN Mark eco-label in Taiwan. Apart from these products, APP Taiwan also carries a wide range including its SinarVanda, SinarPlex, Paperline, IK, PLC, and Hi-Pock.
Having been in Taiwan for over 25 years, the APP brand is well-known to customers and consumers . It does not take this for granted, so Angella and APP – including its Chief Sustainability Officer and Business Unit Heads – are regularly represented at various forums as speakers and participants – including those on sustainability, green purchasing, and circular economy – to share and learn. Angella sees this as important to update and communicate with stakeholders so they know more about APP as a company.
APP Taiwan is also a participant in the Green Thumb project – part of the Jane Goodall Institute Taiwan’s global Roots & Shoots program – where native trees are planted in local elementary/junior high schools. To date, trees have been planted in 16 schools.
Foopak Bio Natura has also become a feature at the annual ELLE Run for Green, a mass running event that attracts thousands of participants which seeks to promote a healthy and environmentally-friendly lifestyle. At last year’s edition, APP Taiwan supported by sponsoring 30,000 plastic-free Foopak cups to minimise the environmental impact of hydrating the runners.
Angella observes that with attention shifting from sustainability and ESG to climate change and carbon reduction, buying green is not just a slogan but a priority for many Taiwanese.
“According to a Euromonitor study in 2020, 69 percent of Taiwanese consumers have been actively reducing the use of plastic, and about 50 percent of consumers chose to buy products conforming to the concept of sustainable packaging. The environment and sustainability are important to Taiwanese, and they are showing that with their purchasing habits. As a corporate citizen and responsible business, APP Taiwan is committed to doing our part to protect the environment and respond to consumer needs. Foopak Bio Natura is a manifestation of this commitment.”
Despite more than half of the island covered in forest, there is concern that this is dwindling although the government has acted by banning the logging of all natural forests since 1991. The people of Taiwan, having lived and grown up with nature, strive to protect natural forests and are sensitive when it comes to activities such as logging that could damage them. Today, only about 10% of Taiwan’s trees can be harvested through commercial plantations, with around 70% of paper pulp imported.
One of APP’s core competence is the Forest-Pulp-Paper integrated supply chain. Among other paper suppliers and even those with a longer history than APP, this integrated supply chain and Forest Conservation Policy is held up as positive examples of responsible and sustainable production and corporate action by customers, consumers, and the media in Taiwan. This helps the company stay on track to fulfil its goals set out in the Sustainability Roadmap Vision 2030 and contribute to protecting nature on this remarkably green island.