Procter & Gamble Agrees to Clean Up Its Palm Oil Act

by Meena Hussein

April 8, 2014

Procter and Gamble (P&G) has committed to a new No Deforestation policy that will remove forest destruction from its products and provide full traceability for all the palm oil and derivatives it uses. After weeks of public pressure and outcry over the company's palm oil sourcing practices, this is a huge step forward in protecting the country's forests and the communities who depend on them, but warned that much work still remains.

Nearly 400,000 people have called for Procter & Gamble — which manufactures a wide range of products including Head & Shoulders shampoo — to change its ways and take measures to stop the destruction of habitat that is home to the Sumatran tiger and the orangutan, amongst other species.

A series of protests across the world drew attention to P&G’s bad practices, including at the company’s headquarters in Cincinnati in the United States, a peaceful action for which Greenpeace USA activists still face serious charges.

In response, P&G has promised to take measures removing all deforestation from its palm oil supply chains by 2020. The policy goes beyond existing criteria from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and requires the company’s suppliers to guarantee there will be no conversion of peatland, that the rights of local communities will be respected and that high carbon and high conservation value areas will be protected.

“Hundreds of thousands of people across the planet have called on P&G to get rid of palm oil that is leaving tigers and orangutans homeless,” says Areeba Hamid, forest campaigner with Greenpeace International. Their commitment today is another step towards responsible supply chains and ending deforestation in the worlds rainforests.

But the policy is not perfect. It leaves suppliers six more years to clear forests. With global warming and rapid biodiversity loss, we urge P&G to take action against suppliers, such as Musim Mas and KLK that have been identified to be clearing forests and peatlands.

Also, for P&G to guarantee that all its products are completely free from forest destruction, it would need to implement a similar no deforestation commitment across forest commodities that it sources apart such as wood pulp.

A Greenpeace study released in February 2014 highlighted serious violations committed by a number of P&G’s known suppliers and the subsequent public outcry saw more than 400,000 people email the company’s CEO demanding change.

The announcement follows a number of other high-profile palm oil traders and consumers — including L’Oreal, Colgate-Palmolive, Wilmar and GAR — who have all committed to no deforestation in their supply chains.

This indicates a real and significant change in attitude within an industry that has been linked to widespread deforestation, the removal of livelihoods from local communities and the destruction of the habitat of endangered species and valuable biodiversity.

“P&G’s policy is testimony to the transformation that the palm oil industry is currently undergoing: from consumers demanding deforestation free products, to traders and producers such as Wilmar and GAR adopting no deforestation policies: responsible palm oil is fast becoming the norm,” says Hamid.

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