Toilet roll manufacturer Cottonsoft has made a public relations blunder by refusing to give Greenpeace a copy of the tests it claims disprove the environmental group's allegations its products contain rainforest fibre, an expert says.
Claudia Macdonald, managing director of PR firm Mango Communications, said the company made the right move in getting Australia's Covey Consulting to carry out the tests.
"But with anything like this you need to be really transparent," she said. "It would have been better to release the results and make them widely available."
Cottonsoft, a subsidiary of Jakarta-based Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) with manufacturing facilities in Auckland and Dunedin, had the tests done last month to combat Greenpeace claims its products contain fibre sourced from Indonesian rainforest trees.
Tests on three products found they contained "standard pulpwood plantation species", said the company, whose brands include Tuffy paper towels, Paseo, CottonSofts and KiwiSoft toilet tissue.
Greenpeace's allegations are based on independent testing it commissioned a United States laboratory to carry out earlier this year.
Cottonsoft public affairs director Steve Nicholson said yesterday the firm was waiting for clearance from APP in Jakarta to make the Covey Consulting test results public.
"If we'd intended not to release them, that would have been silly," he said. "It's just that we don't want to simply crumble to the pressure of Greenpeace demanding they have [the test results]."
Meanwhile, the battle between the environmental group and Cottonsoft deepened yesterday, Greenpeace saying new research conducted by a German laboratory last month found rainforest fibre in a second batch of samples from the same Cottonsoft products it had tested earlier this year by the US lab, IPS Global.
Cottonsoft claims the environmental group's "attacks" have damaged its brand and placed the jobs of its 130 New Zealand workers in jeopardy. Nicholson said Greenpeace had treated Cottonsoft's PEFC (sustainable wood) certification as illegitimate.
In 2007 the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), another certifying organisation, disassociated itself from APP. "There is substantial publicly available information [suggesting] APP is associated with destructive forestry practices," FSC said at the time.