Nike establishes policy to protect the Amazon and the climate

What are Timberland, Adidas, Reebok, and Clarks waiting for?

Feature story - July 22, 2009
Following the release of the Greenpeace report, “Slaughtering the Amazon,” which showed that demand for shoe leather plays an integral role in the deforestation of the Amazon by cattle ranchers in Brazil, Nike contacted Greenpeace and worked with us to establish a new leather sourcing policy. Nike has announced new standards that will keep leather made from Amazon destruction out of its shoes, and will adhere to those standards until there can be guarantees that none of the leather and other cattle products in Brazil are coming from deforested Amazon land.

Read Nike's press release

Over 30,000 Greenpeace activists emailed Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Timberland, Geox and Clarks to tell them about their concern for the environment and the climate. That's over 200,000 emails sent by Greenpeace activists to these popular shoe brands!

"Nike has set a great precedent for Timberland, Adidas, Reebok, and Clarks to follow," says Greenpeace forests campaigner Lindsey Allen. "Brazil's cattle industry, which supplies leather for shoes, accounts for about 80% of all deforested areas in the Amazon. In fact, the Brazilian cattle industry is the largest single source of deforestation anywhere in the world. And deforestation in turn causes one-fifth of all the greenhouse gas emissions in the world, more than all the world's cars, trucks, trains, planes, and ships combined. Nike has taken the necessary steps to make sure they aren't contributing to the problem. Timberland, Adidas, Reebok, and Clarks need to adopt policies to protect the Amazon and the climate, as well."

Nike sets example other shoe companies must follow

While the companies behind reputable global brands like Timberland, Adidas, Reebok, and Clarks appear to believe that Amazon sources are excluded from their products, our report, "Slaughtering the Amazon," which was the result of a three-year investigation into Brazil's cattle industry, exposed how these companies' blind consumption of raw materials is actually fueling Amazon deforestation and climate change.

Greenpeace's undercover investigation into the Brazilian cattle industry exposed the many convoluted steps in the complex global trade in leather and beef products from part-Brazilian-government-owned corporations Bertin, JBS and Marfrig. We have identified hundreds of ranches belonging to these companies that are within the Amazon rainforest and supplying cattle to slaughterhouses in the Amazon region. Where we were able to obtain mapped boundaries for ranches, satellite analysis reveals that significant supplies of cattle come from ranches active in recent and illegal deforestation. Trade data also reveal trade with ranches using modern-day slavery. Additionally, one Bertin slaughterhouse receives supplies of cattle from an illegal ranch occupying Indian Lands.

These slaughterhouses in the Amazon region ship their hides and beef to company facilities thousands of miles away in the south of Brazil for further processing before export. In a number of cases, additional processing takes place in import countries before the final product reaches the market. In effect, criminal or "dirty" supplies of cattle are being "laundered" through this supply chain to an unwitting global market.

We have sent copies of the report to all of the shoe companies named as receiving this laundered leather, but unfortunately only Nike has taken the steps necessary to ensure that its consumption of raw materials is not contributing to destruction of the Amazon and climate change. Which begs the question: When will Adidas, Reebok, Timberland, Clarks, and Geox do the right thing and establish policies of their own to protect the Amazon and the climate?

Greenpeace report has had major impact

The announcement from Nike is the latest in a string of welcome news for the Amazon and the climate since June 1st, when the "Slaughtering the Amazon" report was released. The next day, the Public Prosecution Office in Brazil's Para State announced that it was opening a billion-dollar lawsuit against several farms and various companies operating there, including one slaughterhouse owned by Brazil's cattle giant Bertin.

On June 12th came news that several major grocery store chains in Brazil, including Wal-Mart and Carrefour, had banned beef purchased from the farms accused by the Para state prosecutor's offfice of being involved in illegal deforestation. The very next day, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank, announced that it was withdrawing a $90 million dollar loan to Bertin.

Then, on June 22nd, the world's fourth largest beef trader, Marfrig, announced a moratorium that would prevent the company from buying cattle raised in newly deforested areas within the Amazon. The move by Marfrig came after the "Slaughtering the Amazon" report had thrust an international spotlight on Marfrig, Bertin, JBS and other leading cattle companies for driving Amazon deforestation and climate change.

Take action! Say thank you to Nike, and ask the other brands to clean up their act.

The demand for leather means more Amazon rainforest cleared to graze cattle - leather that can end up in popular brands like Timberland, Adidas, Reebok, and Clarks. Nike has stepped up and taken the necessary action to eliminate Amazon destruction from its supply chain. Take action now >> Thank Nike for setting a good example of protecting the Amazon and the climate.

Unfortunately, the other shoe companies linked to Amazon deforestation in our report continue to offer nothing but excuses. With rival Nike having made a commitment to protect the Amazon, it's time for these companies to step up and do the right thing.

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Thank Nike for protecting the Amazon and the climate