Greenwash alert as palm oil companies sign onto continued deforestation

Press release - 11 July, 2014
Jakarta, 11 July 2014 – Major palm oil producers including Sime Darby, KLK and Asian Agri announced this week a "sustainability initiative" which Greenpeace warns will undermine consumer companies' recent commitments to remove deforestation from their palm oil supply chains.

The initiative, called the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto (SPOM), claims to go beyond sustainability standards established by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). But rather than stopping forest clearance, it will allow for continued deforestation while members of the Manifesto study tools to determine what forests to develop or protect, known as the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach.

Bustar Maitar, head of the Indonesia forest campaign at Greenpeace International, said:

"This is not the milestone Sime Darby is saying it is. Greenpeace does not support a process that allows companies to claim 'no deforestation' while their manifesto allows them to continue to clear forests.

"Indonesia's forests are disappearing faster than anywhere else in the world, and the level of action must match this urgency. Further research to strengthen the HCS Approach is welcome, but allowing clearance in the name of 'sustainability' is nothing less than greenwashing. To show they are serious about addressing deforestation, the group must immediately stop clearing potential HCS forests."

"Our message to consumer companies such as Unilever, Nestle and P&G – which have promised consumers around the world clean, responsibly produced palm oil – is clear: do not be fooled by these half-baked commitments. We call on these consumer companies to use their power in the market to tell suppliers to stop the bulldozers and demand forest protection."

On the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach:

Greenpeace, Golden Agri Resources and TFT developed the HCS Approach, which combines carbon and biodiversity conservation, as well as community rights and livelihoods to determine what land can and cannot be developed.

"Tools to implement No Deforestation are already being tested and starting to be implemented by the likes of Asia Pulp & Paper, Golden Agri Resources, Cargill and Wilmar. Companies serious about breaking their link with forest destruction will stop the bulldozers now, and work to strengthen this definition, rather than support a fringe initiative that has not gained credibility in the eyes of NGOs," said Bustar.

Other flaws in the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto are:

  • It does not clearly state that no deforestation and no development on peatland will take place across the supply chains of SPOM members. This is significantly weaker than Wilmar and GAR's existing No Deforestation policies.
  • The Manifesto does not clearly state that it will apply to all its signatories' operations regardless of the size of their stake. This is a crucial loophole and a significant reputational risk, as some of the signatories are engaged in joint ventures with parties that have been accused of deforestation.


Notes to editors:

1. Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto signatories are: Sime Darby Plantation, Musim Mas Group, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK), IOI Group Corporation Berhad, Cargill and Asian Agri/APICAL.

2. Background briefing on the High Carbon Stock Approach.

3. The announcement of the Sustainable Palm Oil Initiative.

Media contact:

Tristan Tremschnig, Communications Coordinator Indonesia Forests, Greenpeace International, +31 6 43 78 7393,