Giant toy manufacturer Mattel Inc., producer of Barbie dolls and other popular toys, has just adopted new Sustainable Sourcing Principles to ensure the paper and wood fibre used in its products and packaging come from sustainably managed forests.
Through the new Principles, the company has committed to promoting sustainable forestry by, among other things:
- Maximizing post-consumer recycled fibre content where possible;
- Avoiding wood fibre from controversial sources by ensuring, among other things, that:
- The fibre’s origin is known and traceable;
- The fibre was legally harvested and was not harvested in violation of internationally-accepted guidelines and treaties regarding indigenous peoples’ rights; and
- The fibre does not originate from High Conservation Value Forests, or from natural forests converted to timber plantations or to non-forest uses after November 1994.
- Increasing the use of wood/fibre certified by a “credible third-party forest certification scheme,” with preference for those that exhibit the “highest standards and robust audit processes;”
- Establishing specific goals to measure our progress; and
- Reporting publicly on progress in implementing the Principles.
Current Efforts to Implement the Principles
Although Mattel’s Sustainable Sourcing Principles do not define which forest certification system exhibits the “highest standards and robust audit processes” referred to in the Principles, the company has announced it “will show preference, when feasible, for fiber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council” (FSC) as part of its efforts to implement the Principles. The company also has announced that “a global team is taking steps to communicate and implement the company’s expectations with suppliers, including Mattel’s preference for FSC-Certified Fiber.”
Mattel has adopted two specific, measurable goals regarding packaging, which will be the focus of the first phase of implementation of the Sustainable Sourcing Principles:
- By the end of 2011, 70 percent of Mattel’s paper packaging will be composed of recycled material or sustainable fibre;
- By year-end 2015, 85 percent percent of Mattel’s paper packaging will be composed of recycled material or sustainable fibre.
Progress towards meeting these goals will be reported through Mattel’s Global Citizenship Reports, with the next report expected in mid-2012.
Mattel’s announcement of the new Sustainable Sourcing Principles came only four months after Greenpeace activists posted a big banner in the company’s California headquarters’ building that read: “Barbie: It’s Over. I don’t date girls that are into deforestation.”
Greenpeace launched the environmental campaign in June 2011, accusing Mattel and other companies of using packaging sourced from endangered Indonesian forests by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), one of the largest pulp and paper manufacturers in Asia. APP is a subsidiary of PT Sinar Mas Group, one of Indonesia’s largest industrial conglomerates. Paper Excellence Canada Holdings, which according to the Globe and Mail was created as a separate entity from Sinar Mas but is owned by the family of Sinar Mas founder Eka Tjipta Widjaja, recently purchased five pulp mills in Canada. 
Using a combination of on-the-ground research and forensic testing, Greenpeace investigators showed that packaging for the Mattel toys was being produced using timber from the rainforests of Indonesia, home to endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger and orangutan. Company certificates were traced back to APP.
Mattel developed its Sustainable Sourcing Principles with input from environmental groups and other stakeholders, including major suppliers.
About Asia Pacific Products (APP)
APP does not own or manage forests, but instead sources fibre from suppliers. APP’s principal operations (paper mills) are located in Indonesia, and the company markets its products to more than 65 countries on six continents. In Canada, APP imports and distributes papers produced in its Asian mills through APP Canada Ltd. (http://www.appcanada.ca/AppProfile.aspx).
APP’s main paper mills have achieved Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) “chain-of-custody” certification (http://www.asiapulppaper.com/). Rather than a certification standard, PEFC is an umbrella organization that recognises various national forest certification systems, including the Sustainable Forestry Initiative standard, initially launched in 1994 by the American Forest & Paper Association, and the Canadian Standards Association’s Sustainable Forest Management Standard. In view of its greater independence from the forest products industry and its more stringent social and environmental requirements, leading environmental NGOs see FSC as the only credible forest certification system currently available. 
 Mattel Inc., “Mattel’s Sustainable Sourcing Principles” http://corporate.mattel.com/about-us/playingresponsibly/index.aspx
 Mattel Inc., “Mattel Announces Sustainable Sourcing Principles- Company strengthens its sustainability efforts across global supply chain, sets goals” online: http://investor.shareholder.com/mattel/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=611230
 ” Indonesian forester widens B.C. footprint,” by Dave Ebner, The Globe and Mail, 17 Aug. 2010, online:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/indonesian-forester-widens-bc-footprint/article1377412/
For further reading:
1. “Barbie behind destruction of the rainforest: Greenpeace,” National Post, 7 June 2001.http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/06/07/barbie-behind-destruction-of-the-rainforest-greenpeace/
2. “Mattel drops paper company linked to Indonesia deforestation,” Los Angeles Times (5 October 2011),http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/10/mattel-barbie-deforestation-asian-paper-and-pulp.html