A major scandal is unfolding in Japan’s paper industry, centered around Japan’s two largest paper companies and two largest buyers of wood fiber from Tasmania, where old growth forests are being destroyed for the international trade in wood pulp. In a striking corporate deception first uncovered in holiday greeting cards sold by Japan Post, it turns out that Nippon, Oji and 4 other Japanese paper companies have been falsifying the amounts of recycled paper in paper products. Worse yet, they have been systematically lying to customers for 10 years.
Nippon’s president has resigned and both companies are facing a major consumer backlash in Japan, with major customers like Fuji Xerox withdrawing Nippon’s recycled paper altogether.
Nippon and Oji are the major buyers of woodchips from Gunns, the nefarious logger that is pushing through the construction of a new pulp mill in Tasmania to hasten the conversion of Tasmania’s native and old growth forests to fast growing tree plantations. Another Japanese buyer of Tasmanian woodchips, Mitsubishi, agreed in 2004 to switch to secondary and plantation forests for woodchip sources as soon as possible. However, both Nippon and Oji have so far been unwilling stop buying woodchips from Tasmania’s old growth forests.
And now, it seems, these companies may even be selling old growth paper under the “recycled” label.