A good start to the year: Akzo Nobel withdraws from controversial project in Indonesia

January 9, 2003

Akzo Nobel has cancelled its plans to participate in the construction of a pulp factory on the Indonesian island of Kalimantan. Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) has been demanding the company do so since 2001.

Until recently, Akzo Nobel refused to reconsider its plans. Friends of the Earth Netherlands is pleased that Akzo has finally taken this step.

Just a few weeks ago, on December 2, Friends of the Earth voiced its protest by draping a 'jungle curtain' accompanied by the sound of chainsaws in front of the entrance to Akzo Nobel's head office in Arnhem, the Netherlands. The Friends of the Earth report Paper from Forest Giants- Akzo Nobel's plans in Indonesia was published

Akzo Nobel was part of a so-called Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Singapore company that plans to build a pulp factory in Kalimantan. Nearly 50,000 hectares of tropical rainforest would have to be cut down and replaced by plantations to supply the pulp factory with wood pulp. Akzo had agreed to build a chemical plant
that would manufacture bleaching agents for this factory.

FoE Netherlands is happy to see that Akzo Nobel has shown it takes its own environmental policy seriously by withdrawing from this project. Akzo Nobel states:

'The four points raised by Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth) in their executive summary actually reflect our own views: Akzo Nobel share their concerns over
mismanagement and deforestation in Indonesia as well as in other countries. It is in our interest and a basis for our pulp and paper chemicals business to develop and market more environment compatible products and systems for pulp bleaching and paper manufacturing.'

Akzo is the second company in the Filthy Five series of Friends of the Earth Netherlands. The series highlights Dutch companies that are not taking their corporate responsibility seriously in foreign countries. The alarming situations uncovered in these cases illustrate the need for binding international legislation for multinationals.

The report, Paper from Forest Giants - Akzo Nobel's plans in Indonesia is not yet available in English. An English summary can be found in the Dutch version on page 33. See: http://www.milieudefensie.nl/wto/publicaties/index.htm

For more information contact:

Mieke van Tankeren
Press Office
Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie)
Email: [email protected]