From: Rainforest Action Network
Published October 21, 2004 04:55 PM

Corporate Customers Duped By Deceptive 'Green' Labeling Scheme

Timber industry execs to face “Hall of Shame” photo exhibit showing destructive forestry practices behind misleading SFI eco-label. Industry-backed certification fails to protect endangered old growth forests. Environmental community rejects the SFI label and warns corporate customers to beware of confusing claims.


Chicago - Decision makers at the North American Wholesale Lumber Association (NAWLA) Trader's Market in Chicago will be forced to face “The SFI Hall of Shame”, a bigger-than-life sidewalk photo exhibit of clearcut forests that have been certified as sustainable by the American Forest & Paper Association’s “Sustainable Forestry Initiative.” The oversized images reveal the destructive forestry practices behind the timber industry’s deceptive “SFI” eco-labeling and claims, which are currently being marketed to corporate America’s biggest wood and paper buyers through a multi-million dollar advertising campaign. Both the SFI label and program have been rejected by almost every leading environmental group for its failure to protect old growth and endangered forests.


Who: Activists from Don’t Buy SFI Coalition (DontBuySFI.org)


What: The unsustainable truth behind the Sustainable Forestry Initiative label and claims.


Where: Hyatt Regency, 151 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois


When: Thursday, October 21 - 11.00am to 1pm


Visuals: Full-color display photographs, banner reading “SFI: Certified Deception”


Products bearing SFI labels and claims continue to come from destructive forestry practices, including old growth and endangered forest logging, the conversion of natural forests to barren tree plantations, and excessive clearcutting. SFI is greenwashing forestry practices that are causing widespread and long-term damage to water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. In addition, the SFI’s standards do not adequately protect endangered species or respect community and indigenous rights. And, SFI labels are allowed on wood and paper products that aren’t even SFI-certified, without an indication of the products’ true contents. The SFI remains closely tied to the wood products industry, and does not assure wood and paper consumers that the products they are purchasing are sourced from sustainably-managed forestlands.


"Companies like Weyerhaeuser created the SFI to convince corporate customers that they are buying wood and paper products originating from sustainably-managed forests,” says Jessica Bell, an organizer with Rainforest Action Network’s Old Growth Campaign. "Customers have a right to know the truth, so the environmental community is coming together to counter deceptive claims being made by the American Forest & Paper Association’s SFI greenwashing scheme. Pictures don’t lie, and these photos show the SFI label for what it really is: false advertising."


"Forest certification should help consumers choose wood and paper products from forests managed to exemplary environmental and social standards," says Daniel Hall of the American Lands Alliance, a Don't Buy SFI coalition member. "Unfortunately, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is a fake environmental certification and wood labeling program that greenwashes harmful industrial logging."


The SFI was launched by the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), the world's most powerful timber industry trade group, in 1995. Association companies, loggers, and other timber industry interests continue to set SFI policy by holding two thirds of the SFI board’s seats. The SFI also obtains most of its funding from logging companies, including Weyerhaeuser, the number one destroyer of old growth forests in North America. The AF&PA also retains control over the SFI’s label and marketing policies.


Both the existing and proposed SFI standards fail to adequately protect old growth, endangered forests, endangered species, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and natural forest characteristics necessary for ecosystem function. In addition, they do not include adequate measures to respect communities and protect indigenous peoples' rights. SFI labels are allowed on wood and paper products from forests that don't even meet SFI standards.


"There is a growing supply of sustainable good wood and paper alternatives in the marketplace today" adds Gregory Hile, Implementation Coordinator at Rainforest Action Network. “The website BuyGoodWood.Com helps guide customers toward environmentally-ethical forest products. The SFI is a blatant and well-orchestrated effort to create confusion in the marketplace for corporate customers who care about protecting forests.”


Only 22 percent of the world's intact forests are left. In the United States, only four percent of the country's original forests are left.


In February 2004, a coalition of leading environmental groups including Rainforest Action Network, Natural Resources Defense Council, American Lands Alliance, Dogwood Alliance, and others launched the Don’t Buy SFI coalition and a consumer campaign to educate American consumers about the truth behind the timber industry’s phony new SFI eco-label and claims. For more information visit: DontBuySFI.com


Rainforest Action Network campaigns for the forests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through grassroots organizing, education and non-violent direct action. Additional information can be found at BuyGoodWood.com.


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