From the fruit and seeds of the oil palm tree, and straight into our soap, detergents, makeup, biscuits, and biofuel – palm oil is everywhere. It is cheaper to grow than many of its alternatives, takes up less land space, and has a long shelf life, so it’s no wonder many global brands are using it on an ever-growing scale. But while palm oil has many uses and benefits, its production can also have unjustifiable costs.
Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of crude palm oil and around 15 million hectares of land in Indonesia has been licensed for palm oil development, though the precise figure is difficult to determine due to lack of transparency in the sector. The palm oil sector was the single largest driver of deforestation in the 2009–2011 period, with identified concessions accounting for about a quarter (150,000ha) of forest loss.
Consumer companies, traders and palm oil producers need to implement No Deforestation Policies to ensure that the palm oil in their supply chains is free from forest destruction, land conflicts and human rights violations.
Wilmar International: trading forest destruction around the world
Wilmar International is the world’s biggest trader of palm oil products. It sits at the centre of a global web of corporations – from palm oil producers through to palm oil consumers – that are making us all unwitting accomplices in the destruction of Indonesia’s forests. There are a few companies that have the size and the responsibility to show leadership. Wilmar is one of these.
Greenpeace has documented Wilmar’s links to gross acts of deforestation and irresponsible or illegal behavior, including the extensive clearance of both tiger and orang-utan habitat.
Although Wilmar has undertaken to preserve high conservation value (HCV) forests and peatland in its own concessions, these areas supply less than 4% of the palm oil it trades and processes, with the remainder being produced by third-party suppliers.
Greenpeace demands that Wilmar stops laundering dirty palm oil onto global markets and that household brands clean up their supply chains. Wilmar and the companies that buy its products must ensure that their palm oil supply makes a genuine contribution to Indonesia’s development, rather than destroying the future for its people, its wildlife and the global climate on which we all depend.