Branching Out
    Category: Indonesia 50 Richest By : Renjani Puspo Sari Read : 76051 Date : Thursday, December 04, 2014 - 01:11:50

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    As the son of billionaire Sukanto Tanoto, Anderson Tanoto, now 25, is heading one of the most important parts of his father’s RGE group, the paper firm Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (April). To show his commitment, he lives at the mill, two hours drive from Pekanbaru in Sumatra. Part of his mission is to convince the world that RGE and in particular April is committed to green growth. It’s not easy—Sukanto gets some harsh criticism. The home page of one blog,, says: “Sukanto Tanoto: Smile! You’re at the worst Sukanto Tanoto website ever!” Below that are smaller headlines such as: “Abysmal environmental record: Indonesia’s lead driver of rainforest destruction.” A 2013 Mongobay article claims that 60% of timber supply to April’s Indonesian mill came from rainforests, citing unnamed “government data” as a source.

    Meanwhile in an information center at the mill, visitors can see dioramas and other displays about April, some with an environmental message, such as one showing waste products from the paper-making process being recycled. “We make our products from 100% renewable plantation fiber,” says Anderson. He explains how April uses wood sourced from its own plantations. All the products produced, he says, have a rigorous chain of custody that can be traced from the harvested tree to the final ream of paper waiting shipment at the plant.

    The RGE website says: “April protects over 200,000 hectares of conservation forest and indigenous tree species areas in Riau Province, which constitutes about 20% of total land managed by April and supply partners. To combat illegal logging, April relies on a rigorous Wood Purchase Policy that includes a wood-tracking system and numerous international chain of custody and legality certifications.” During an aerial trip over the plant’s surrounding plantations (the plant is located in the middle of Sumatra to be close to its wood supply), one can see belts of traditional rainforest snaking in between timber plantations.

    The stakes for RGE are high. Rival paper company APP, owned by the Sinar Mas group, has been under considerable pressure in recent years including boycotts of its products. An article on the Mongobay website claims that the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) put April last year on “formal probation” due to its “forest management and fiber procurement practices” (a link to the actual letter is no longer available).

    April plus Asia Symbol, RGE’s paper operation in China, have a combined total revenue of about $2.1 billion, making one of the largest paper firms in the world and a big part of the RGE group. Its brand, Paper One paper, is exported to over 75 countries. Anderson says that currently his company replants 500,000 ha of conservation and community forest every year, and is committed to sustainable development. As Anderson says: “My father always says there are 3 C’s. If it is good for the community and for the country, then it is good for the company.”