The Walt Disney Co. yesterday announced new guidelines for sourcing paper used in its popular lines of products and packaging, citing its long-standing commitment to conservation and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

"The paper policy is an example of how Disney conducts business in an environmentally and socially responsible way, and demonstrates the Company's commitment to creating a lasting, positive impact on ecosystems and communities worldwide," said Beth Stevens, Disney's senior vice president of corporate citizenship, environment and conservation, in a statement.

Disney had faced pressure in the past two years for its use of rainforest-derived paper.

"Rainforests are more valuable left standing than being pulped for paper," said Rebecca Tarbotton, executive director of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), in a press release.

"Disney is adding its voice to the growing chorus of companies demonstrating that there's no need to sacrifice endangered forests in Indonesia or elsewhere for the paper we use every day."

The policy will be implemented in two phases: The first will affect paper products Disney sources directly from suppliers. A second phase will address paper sourced by independent licensees of the company.

Disney aims to determine the country of origin, fiber source and supply chain dynamics of its paper products, which conservationists and businesses have complained is particularly obscure in the pulp and paper sector.

The company will produce an annual, publicly accessible report on implementation of its policy.

In a blog post about Disney's policy, Ruth Nogueron of the World Resources Institute (WRI) said, "WRI is encouraged by Disney's step forward. We hope that Disney -- as well as other companies -- will continue to promote policies that build a demand for paper products sourced from sustainably managed forests."

RAN worked with Disney in developing the policy. It is the ninth publisher the San Francisco-based organization has helped to disassociate from suppliers that contribute to rainforest destruction. The other publishers are Scholastic, Hachette, Pearson-Penguin, Candlewick Press, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster and Random House.

Disney is the world's largest publisher of children's books and magazines.

In 2010, a laboratory analysis commissioned by RAN revealed that the company's books were printed on paper that contained Indonesian rainforest fiber.

Indonesia's sprawling tropical forests and peat soils act as a massive carbon storage sink but have been heavily deforested and degraded in recent years, primarily by palm oil companies and the pulp-paper giants Asian Pulp and Paper and Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd.

RAN estimates that 2.5 million acres of forest are cleared each year in Indonesia.

Indonesia agreed in 2011 to curb deforestation in exchange for $1 billion from Norway in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That effort has come under criticism due to continued forest clearing (ClimateWire, Oct. 10).

Greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and land degradation accounted for 12 percent of global emissions between 2000 and 2005, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office.

Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC., 202-628-6500