People walking around in Orangutan suits, in a busy commercial area, is not a usual sight. It's funny at first, but then you realise that they are probably doing all of this for a reason. For the Greenpeace activists in these Orangutan suits it was KFC's rainforest destroying packaging. They held banners that said "KFC NO GOOD for Rainforests" demanding KFC and its parent company YUM to stop driving rainforest destruction in countries like Indonesia.
So why KFC and not someone else? KFC is a laggard in the fast food sector. Among all the major companies in this sector KFC and their parent company Yum! have done the least to address their impacts on forests in their supply chain. KFC and their parent company are found to be using packaging paper from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), a company known for destroying forests important for many endangered species like the Sumatran tiger and Orangutan in Indonesia.
Greenpeace Activists at APP Concession © Melvinas Priananda / Greenpeace
Forensic testing of KFCs packaging and Greenpeace research revealed that KFC is buying from APP in some countries and some of those packaging contain fibre which is found in rainforests in countries like Indonesia. The very same forests endangered species like Sumatran tiger, orang-utan and many indigenous communities call home.
In India KFC also uses palm oil in its products, but so far they have not made any commitment to buy sustainable palm oil or eliminate deforestation from their supplies. That's not what you would except from responsible companies.
Millions of hectares of world's richest tropical rainforests, which are habitats of orangutans and Sumatran tigers are being destroyed due to the rapid expansion of palm oil and paper sectors. Indonesia contributes 5% to global GHG emissions, and world's 3rd largest GHG emitter after USA and China because of its massive forest loss and peat land degradation.
India is the biggest market for palm oil in the world, consuming almost 15 percent of the global palm oil, most of which comes from Indonesia. According to Indonesia's National Climate Change Council, Global demand for palm oil has increased rapidly over last few decades making the palm oil sector one of the key drivers of natural forests loss in Indonesia. So India has role in protecting the last remaining rainforests in the world.
Indian corporations like Ruchi Soya, Adani Wilmar, Godrej, ITC, Britannia, Parle and many others use Indonesian palm oil in their products but so far no one has made any substantial commitment to delink them from deforestation. There is great opportunity for Indian corporates to show true global leadership by adopting zero deforestation policies but will they rise to the occasion?
More than 60 companies around the world have now suspended purchases from APP because of their bad business practices. Companies like Nestle, Unilever and Kraft have already put progressive policies on sourcing palm oil and pulp and paper and cutting ties with suppliers involved in destruction.
KFC, like the other big companies, can take a step towards de-linking itself from rainforest destruction. Close to a 100,000 people all over the world have joined the revolt against KFC by signing petitions online and giving missed calls from their mobile phones. Join the revolt.