Sukanto Tanoto, who heads the $15 billion RGE Group of companies responsible for a significant share of the global economy’s output of palm oil, wood pulp, fiber, and other natural resources-based products, strives to give back to and take good care of the communities in which he does business. An example of this is his focus on the needs of workers and families in Kerinci, whose livelihoods depend solely on the company’s operations.
Kerinci, home to the largest integrated paper and pulp mill in the world, runs as part of the operations of the RGE company Asia Pacific Resources International Limited, or APRIL. In recent years, APRIL’s pulp production capacity has reached close to 3 million tons a year, and its paper output has exceeded 800,000 tons annually. The company, which maintains sales operations for these products in more than 70 nations, protects its investment by replanting 200 million seedlings per year.
Based on this success, it seems natural for Sukanto Tanoto and his executive team at APRIL to continue their focus on community and the environment by reusing waste from the Kerinci mill operation to provide free electrical power to people in the area. In fact, production process can sustain itself because more than 90% of the energy can be recycled, and production waste is never a real waste since it can be utilised to generate power. The company has also supplied clean water to that community, and has worked with local farmers to help them to improve their entrepreneurial skills and ability to obtain commercial funding. Besides providing these support to the community, Sukanto Tanoto also know that as an environment steward, it is only right to ensure that living in the area is safe, and sustainable for future generations.
There are many articles that highlight the negative impacts a company’s operations can bring to the surrounding environment and how the natural landscape of the area can be permanently damaged. However, this is not the case for APRIL in Kerinci because the company prioritises the community’s needs and ensure that all international safety standards are met. All emissions and effluents produced by the mill’s operations are measured against external standards and monitored regularly. In addition to APRIL’s daily assessment, local environmental NGOs, academic institutions, and the government conduct their own monitoring independently. Wastewater quality, air emission levels and ambient air quality at the APRIL complex more than satisfy national and international safety standards. A concerted effort has been put in place to develop and maintain a culture of safety throughout the mill complex and surrounding community. The plant’s safety standards are benchmarked against the best in the industry and certified under the OHSAS 18001 standard.