Ikea sawmill certification, drug costs and more good news for palm oil and paper fibre

Ikea sawmill keeps FSC certificate after appeal

Following an appeal, the Rainforest Alliance has lifted its suspension of the Forest Stewardship Council certificate for Swedwood Karelia, a Russian subsidiary of Ikea, which provides wood for the discount furniture retailer.

The suspension was enacted in January as a result of six non-conformances found during Rainforest Alliance’s annual audit of the Swedwood Karelia mill in October 2013, including damaging habitats during harvesting, facility and equipment problems, concerns about its forestry worker training, and other forestry management issues. According to FSC rules, a suspension is required when five or more major non-conformances are found, which are qualified as “systemic or long-term issues that span a wide area and/or cause significant damage”.

Swedwood subsequently filed an appeal as it believed four of the six non-conformances should have been graded as minor, and that two were unwarranted altogether. Rainforest Alliance appointed an independent appeals committee to investigate the findings, which later downgraded one of the major non-conformances to minor and withdrew two.

According to Richard Donovan, vice-president of forestry at Rainforest Alliance, Ikea is one of the largest retail users by volume of FSC certified forest products, while the Swedwood Karelia mill was the first supplier to be awarded the FSC certificate in the Karelia region in 2006.

“Rainforest Alliance believes that Ikea was and remains a trailblazer for large global consumers of wood products in their commitment to source wood from FSC certified forests,” says Donovan. “By implementing corrective actions to address identified non-conformances and maintaining FSC forest certification on forests managed by Swedwood, Ikea is demonstrating commitment to improve their forest management.”

Ikea Industry (the company’s industrial operations) has since chosen to divest its sawmill operation in Swedwood Karelia and concentrate production at Swedwood Tikhvin to “achieve additional economies of scale and a more efficient supply”, according to Ikea spokeswoman Aisha Gibson. Gibson says the decision is unrelated to the FSC suspension, as Swedwood Karelia has been uncompetitive for years, and is 30% more expensive to operate than the Tikhvin site.

“The Ikea industrial operation in Russia is restructuring and strengthening parts of its production to support a long-term, sustainable growth for Ikea in Russia,” says Gibson. “We are working hard to find a buyer for the Karelia sawmill to try to protect as many jobs as we can in the area. We are also committed to the principles of FSC and we take our responsibility seriously, which is why we felt it was important to reinstate the FSC certification.”

Gilead cuts Hep C drug cost

Following widespread criticism, biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences has agreed to cut the cost of its new hepatitis C drug Sovaldi in Egypt.
Hepatitis C affects 185 million people worldwide, predominantly in middle-income countries. Egypt, a lower-middle income country, has the highest rate of the disease worldwide.

The new Sovaldi drug has made big strides over its predecessors, with a cure rate of about 90%. But with a hefty price tag of $80,000 in America for the 12-week course of treatment and $2,000 in middle-income countries, international humanitarian organisations including Doctors of the World (Médecins du Monde), along with US lawmakers, are raising concerns about the drug’s ability to reach people in need.

As a result, Gilead has agreed to sell Sovaldi in Egypt for $900 for the 12-week course. The company has not yet disclosed plans to offer a similar discount to other countries.

Colgate-Palmolive goes for zero deforestation

Colgate-Palmolive joins a host of big name brands including Unilever, Nestlé, Mars, Kellogg, and L’Oréal with its new policy on no deforestation, which details the company’s commitment to responsibly source pulp and paper, palm oil and derivatives, soy and soy oil, and beef tallow by 2020.

The development comes after vigorous campaigning by Greenpeace to incite companies to clean up their supply chains by instituting full traceability of the palm oil sourced and used in their products.

As part of its new policy, Colgate pledged to achieve full traceability of its palm oil supply chain back to the plantation by 2015, increase its use of physical certified sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil where possible, and continue buying GreenPalm Certificates to cover its remaining palm oil requirements. The company also committed to protecting peatlands, high conservation value and high carbon stock forests, and working with suppliers who respect local communities and labour rights.

“Colgate, in consultation with key stakeholders such as Greenpeace, developed this policy to clearly communicate its commitment on this critical issue,” the company says. “[We] will work closely with customers, suppliers, non-governmental organisations and others to increase awareness and commitment to the new policy and to build the capability to achieve the 2015-2020 targets.”

While Greenpeace commends Colgate on the development, the organisation says it will continue to push the company to implement its new policy before 2020.

biopharmaceuticals  Ikea  Palm Oil  Rainforest Alliance  wood sourcing 

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