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Household brands renege on palm oil pledge

Eight major household brands including PZ Cussons, Johnson & Johnson and Kellogg’s  have refused to take steps towards eliminating palm oil from Indonesian forest destruction from their supply chains.

That’s according to Greenpeace which claims that, as members of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), these brands promised in 2010 to help protect forests and limit climate change by cleaning up global commodity supply chains by 2020. Yet with less than two years to go before the deadline, Greenpeace says it found some leading consumer brands unwilling to disclose even basic information needed to turn that pledge into reality.

At the start of 2018, Greenpeace International says it challenged 16 leading members of the CGF to demonstrate progress towards a clean palm oil supply chain by disclosing the mills that produced their palm oil, and the names of the producer groups that controlled those mills. It claims this would show whether brands had companies involved in forest destruction in their supply chains  – a vital first real step towards eliminating it.

Orangutan at BOS Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rescue Center in Indonesia

The report,  which follows revelations that more than 100,000 orangutans have been lost in Indonesia in the last 16 years, reveals that, under pressure from Greenpeace and other NGOs (non-governmental organisations), eight brands made steps towards transparency. They are General Mills, Mars, Mondelēz, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever and ColgatePalmolive.

According to Greenpeace, the other half has so far failed. They include Ferrero, Hershey, Kellogg’s, Kraft Heinz, Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, PZ Cussons and Smucker’s.

Kiki Taufik, Global Head of Indonesian forests at Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said: “Brands have repeatedly promised to end deforestation for palm oil by 2020. With less than two years to go they are way off track.

“Some, such as Nestlé and Unilever, have at least come clean about that. Others, including PZ Cussons, Johnson & Johnson and Kraft Heinz, are still keeping customers in the dark.”

Transparency means it’s easier to see and hold to account traders that supply brands with palm oil sourced from rainforest destruction.

Greenpeace has also launched a campaign against Carex, demanding it comes clean about palm oil.

Daniela Montalto, Greenpeace UK Forests Campaigner said: It shouldn’t be up to NGOs to force the industry to keep their promises but progress is woefully slow. By hiding where their palm oil comes from, brands like Carex are making their customers unwittingly complicit in rainforest destruction.

“If Carex wants to save its reputation and stick by its slogan as a brand that ‘cleans, cares and protects’, it has to come clean about palm oil. Following through on its commitments to protect people, wildlife and the planet is the only way.”

Greenpeace says deforestation to produce commodities including palm oil shows no sign of slowing down. Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) figures state that around 24 million hectares of Indonesia’s rainforest was destroyed between 1990 and 2015 – an area almost the size of the UK.

The Indonesian Ministry of Forestry indicates 2.7 million hectares of deforestation between 2012 and 2015 – equating to one football pitch every 25 seconds.

It claims decades of deforestation for plantations have created the ideal conditions for the raging forest and peatland fires – often deliberately set by companies clearing the land – and exploitation of workers remains endemic in the sector.

In 2015, devastating forest fires spread a toxic haze across Southeast Asia, resulting in an estimated 100,000 premature deaths  and conservationists now speculate about when, not if, orangutans and other iconic species will become extinct.

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