• P&G gets a timely reminder: destroying forests is not “sustainable”

    Blogpost by Areeba Hamid - March 27, 2014 at 20:52 Add comment

    So, P&G is still ignoring nearly 400,000 of us who've written to its CEO, Alan G. Lafley. And P&G is still claiming the company is "committed to the sustainable sourcing of palm oil".

    But today, we did something it can't ignore: we took the message right to P&G's door. The company behind brands such as Head & Shoulders was today confronted with protests in five different countries, and fresh evidence that shows just how big the gap is between their spokespeople's words and the reality on the ground.

    In Indonesia, 20 activists unfurled a giant banner from the top floor of P&G's national headquarters in Jakarta and activists took part in colourful street theatre to demand forest-friendly products. The managers refused to meet Greenpeace.

    In the Philippines, "tigers" set up camp outside a P&G facility in the south of the capital, Manila. The protesting tigers installed tree stumps and tents to show how P&G can't guarantee it isn't wiping out their habitats and making them homeless.

    In India, a red carpet "walk of shame" was rolled out in front of Wella's Studios in Delhi and tigers mingled with the public showing how P&G (which also makes Wella shampoos) is contributing to forest destruction.

    In Belgium, Greenpeace activists reached out to hundreds of employees at the P&G Brussels Innovation Center (BIC) in Grimbergen. Again, the management refused to meet us.

    And in Manchester in the UK, five activists were removed from the Cleaning Products Europe 2014 conference (yes, there is a conference for such things…) for quizzing P&G on their so-called "sustainability" credentials. The activists also presented 'The Golden Axe' award to P&G's head of sustainability, which, quite surprisingly, she accepted.

    But how much longer will P&G rehash its tired old lines about being committed to "sustainability" – whatever that means to them?

    The evidence is mounting up. Today, we released more fresh evidence documenting large-scale clearance of primary forest in a concession in Papua, Indonesia. The concession is controlled by Indonesia's industry conglomerate RGE Group, whose palm oil division includes Asian Agri. The group sells palm oil to Cargill, which is a known supplier to P&G.

    Newly planted oil palm saplings amid the stumps from recent (2013) clearance of the forested area inside the PT RML oil palm concession, in the Papuan region of Roasom, Jayapura. 03/08/2014

    Papua is considered the new frontier in Indonesia for palm oil – a vast island with largely intact forest and home to magnificent animals, like the bird of paradise. But unless companies like P&G enforce a No Deforestation policy, much of this is at risk.  RGE Group has a destructive history – it also owns the pulp and paper company, APRIL, which is singlehandedly destroying more forest in Indonesia than any other. RGE's practices in high-risk regions, such as Riau in Sumatra, are linked to the illegal clearance of forests using fire, the sourcing of palm oil from illegal plantations in Tesso Nilo National Park and the destruction of Sumatran tiger habitat.

    P&G has had its head in the sand for too long.

    But you can be part of the change that pushes companies like P&G and help save Indonesia's last forests. If you haven't already, join the nearly 400,000 people who have already taken action here. And stay tuned for the next exciting development!

    Areeba Hamid is a forest campaigner at Greenpeace International

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