Greenpeace says Barbie is forest vandal

Jun 08, 2011 by Alvin Soedarjo
Barbie dolls on sale in Shanghai. Greenpeace on Wednesday accused Mattel, the US maker of Barbie dolls, of contributing to the wanton destruction of carbon-rich Indonesian forests and habitats of endangered species like Sumatran tigers.

Greenpeace on Wednesday accused Mattel, the US maker of Barbie dolls, of contributing to the wanton destruction of carbon-rich Indonesian forests and habitats of endangered species like Sumatran tigers.

The environmental group said packaging used in Barbie and Ken boxes contained timber products from Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), which it described as a "notorious" destroyer of Indonesia's dwindling natural forests.

"Barbie destroys natural forests and pushes rare species such as tigers to the brink of extinction," Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Bustar Maitar said.

"Mattel, which makes Barbie, must stop wrapping the world’s most famous toy in rainforest destruction."

He said APP was a "notorious rainforest destroyer which has been exposed many times for wrecking Indonesia's rainforests to make throw-away packaging".

"APP is bad news for Indonesia's forests. It treats Indonesia as nothing more than a vast disposable asset, grabbing rainforests that are vital to forest communities," Maitar said.

"Mattel and other toy companies like Disney have a responsibility to support clean, low carbon development. They should drop APP right now and instead support responsible Indonesian producers."

Greenpeace accused Mattel, the US maker of Barbie dolls, of contributing to the wanton destruction of carbon-rich Indonesian forests and habitats of endangered species like Sumatran tigers.

APP, a subsidiary of paper and palm oil giant Sinar Mas, said it was "shocked" by the allegations and denied that its activities posed any threat to endangered species or forests.

"I was quite shocked that they attacked us. We are proud to use recycled paper and we are trying to promote the use of recycled paper," APP managing director for sustainability Aida Greenbury said.

Indonesia is considered the world's third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, mainly through deforestation for the timber industry and to make way for coal mines and oil palm plantations.

In a letter to Greenpeace published on the group's website, Mattel says it "generally" works with paper suppliers that recommend products certified as sustainably harvested.

But Greenpeace executive director Phil Radford wrote in a blog that "Mattel’s policy is so weak that even Ken could punch a hole in it".

"Sumatran tigers, elephants and orangutans are being pushed to the brink of extinction because Mattel simply isn’t interested in the origins of Barbie’s pink box," he wrote.

"For companies like Mattel, cute phrases aren’t enough. They need strict rules to prevent rainforest destruction from contaminating their toys."

Greenpeace's campaign against Mattel follows similar action against firms like Walmart, Carrefour and Tesco in the wake of a report released last year titled "How Sinar Mas is Pulping the Planet".

Unilever, Kraft and Nestle have stopped sourcing palm oil from Sinar Mas affiliates, while Carrefour, Staples, Office Depot and Woolworths (Australia) had stopped buying or selling paper products connected to APP.

Several other companies are believed to be reviewing contracts with APP.

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