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As we start to get our minds around the bigger picture of what sustainability stands for, one aspect so often gets ignored: the impact of our actions on the country we live and work in. The three pillars of people, planet and profit seem to ignore the host nation in favour of the whole world! But one company is taking national support to its heart and looking at what their operations mean within the Indonesian country context.

Acountry’s sustainability depends 100% on the actions (and conversely, the lack of actions!) of its citizens and its industries, as well as the rules, regulations (and enforcement of those rules) made by the government. But it is probably at the industrial/manufacturing level that the biggest impact in saving energy, waste and water can be made, and here Suparma, possibly unique among the big players in the paper industry, certainly has made their impact felt.

Suparma has a clear rule not to cut trees to make their paper, tissues and card products, and that is simply put, the hardest thing to do since finding cheap and plentiful forests is still possible and is easy to excuse (the trees will be replanted so are “renewable”) and much easier to process (wood pulp is easier to process - so cheaper) But strictly within the definition of sustainability forest derived paper products do not qualify except if FSC Certified, and sadly most tissue on sale in Indonesia does not carry their much prized FSC Certification. Suparma’s does.

But more than that they are trying to make every aspect of their operations sustainable, which are all the things that the consumer can’t see. For example, making paper requires a lot of energy so Suparma has a major power plant which for years was powered by coal, which as you know, Indonesia has a lot of, and until recently, was not considered an enemy but a strategic ally! But now those days are over, coal is now something to be replaced and that’s exactly what Suparma is doing, by totally replacing the system with a furnace that can utilise paper waste from the factory, waste plastic and cast-off organic materials from plantations and other sources. That immediately changes the fuel source from non-renewable to renewable and recycled in one major change.

Their next serious claim to sustainability is their major source of raw materials, which as we noted earlier, should not be from cut down trees! Instead Suparma uses waste paper, totally discarded but

collected and baled, it is put through a serious (and expensive) de-inking process to remove inks, dyes and other pollutants, and ends up making very good and sustainable tissue. But that’s not enough.

Suparma are now embarking on a major program to collect waste from hotels and malls, apartments and facilities, anywhere they can identify as needing help, and converting that waste to add to their fuel source. Watch this space as they try to move sustainability in Surabaya forward. First Surabaya, then East Java, then Indonesia.

We need visionary companies like this to lead the way.

To know more about Suparma, you can visit their website here.

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