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Indonesia: APRIL Group begins building $2.3 billion paperboard factory in Riau

Forest destroyer growing empire

Pulp and paper maker Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL Group) on Tuesday began construction on a 33.4 trillion rupiah (US$2.33 billion) paperboard production facility in Pangkalan Kerinci, Riau, the company said.

The factory will be part of APRIL’s operations in Riau province, and have the capacity to produce 1.2 million tons of folding box board annually that is fully recyclable and biodegradable. The investment is aimed at fulfilling domestic and international demand for environmentally-friendly packaging products, amid a global focus on reducing the use of fossil fuel-based plastic packaging, the company said. Environmentalists disagee.

APRIL, one of Asia’s largest pulp and paper firms, is among several plantation companies that have been criticised for rampant land clearing, which are often blamed for annual forest fires in Indonesia. The company has a long history of tax evasion, lawsuits by relatives of the owners and former executives.

APRIL denies involvement in illegal land clearing and forest fires and says its sustainability policy includes no deforestation.

Construction of the new facility will be completed in the third quarter of 2023 and it will also be able to produce 1.06 million tons of kraft pulp and 600,000 tons of bleached chemi-thermo mechanical pulp, which are raw materials used to make paper, according to a statement by Indonesia’s coordinating ministry for economic affairs.

Additional supplies for the new production capacity will come entirely from the firm’s existing supply chain, said APRIL, a company owned by Indonesian businessman Sukanto Tanoto, adding that it plans to continue to boost its fibre plantation productivity.

The family owned business has for decades troubled relationship with its communities and governments in Europe and Canada.