Unilever campaign questions and answers

Background - 21 April, 2008
Want to know more about the campaign? Get answers to frequently asked questions here. As the campaign progresses we will add more information.

In just a few sentences, what is the problem?

Unilever, the company behind products like Dove soap, is driving forest destruction and speeding up climate change by buying palm oil from companies which are destroying Indonesia's rainforests to make way for palm oil plantations. By their own admission, Unilever is the biggest single user of palm oil in the world. 

Unilever pretends to be an environmentally responsible company, but what it is actually responsible for is destroying areas of rainforest, driving species extinction and speeding up global warming. Being one of the biggest users of palm oil on the planet, Unilever must stop buying palm oil from these companies and call for a halt on the destruction of Indonesian forests to grow palm oil.

What solution does Greenpeace propose?

Greenpeace wants all companies involved in palm oil production to commit to stopping further deforestation by supporting a moratorium on all rainforest and peatland conversion. The following minimum criteria must be met by the palm oil industry:

  1. No new plantations within mapped forest areas
  2. No plantations resulting in the degradation of peatlands
  3. No plantations or expansion post November 2005 resulting in deforestation or degradation of high conservation value areas including peatlands
  4. No plantations or plantation expansion established on indigenous peoples and other forest dependent communities without their free prior and informed consent
  5. Establish full supply chain traceability and segregation systems which exclude palm oil that fails to meet the above criteria

Is Greenpeace asking consumers to boycott Unilever brands?

No. Greenpeace is not calling for a boycott. We are asking Unilever to act responsibly and to ensure that their products have not been produced at the expense of Indonesian rainforests and the climate. That means that their suppliers are not involved in the continued destruction of these rainforests.

We believe environmentalists and Greenpeace supporters can be more effective if we pressure Unilever to change, exposing the truth about palm oil and showing that we care. Like a negative restaurant review is more damaging than no review at all - Unilever is more sensitive to public exposure and debate than a consumer boycott. What's more, deadly serious as the problem is, our approach allows us to do creative, subversive, fun things we love  anyway.

Where can I find out more?

You can grab our report Burning up Borneo, released April 2008, for the detailed scientific information of the campaign.