Nestlé drives rainforest destruction pushing orang-utans to brink of extinction

Feature story - March 18, 2010
Nestlé is using palm oil from destroyed Indonesian rainforests and peatlands, in products like KitKat, pushing already endangered orang-utans to the brink of extinction and accelerating climate change, a new Greenpeace report reveals. (1)

Nestlé is buying palm oil from companies who are destroying orang-utan habitat.

The damning new Greenpeace report, 'Caught Red-Handed', exposes how Nestlé is sourcing palm oil from suppliers, including Sinar Mas, Indonesia's largest producer of palm oil, which continue to expand into the rainforest and carbon-rich peatlands, as well as into critical orang-utan habitat. Sinar Mas also owns Asia Pulp and Paper, Indonesia's largest pulp and paper company, notorious for its role in rainforest destruction.

Yesterday, protests took place across Europe as around 100 Greenpeace activists, some dressed as orang-utans, went to Nestlé's headquarters and factories in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. They called on Nestlé staff to urge the company to stop using palm oil that's the result of forest destruction.   Greenpeace also released an online video showing an unwitting office worker taking a break to enjoy a KitKat but instead biting into an orang-utan's finger.  Nestle demanded that YouTube remove the video, however the public has since been reposting it on the site.

"In its reaction to Greenpeace's evidence, Nestle admitted that they have been using palm oil from destroyed rainforests in products such as KitKat, and having our video removed proves they are still trying to hide that fact," said Bustar Maitar, Forest team leader of Greenpeace in Southeast Asia.

Nestlé, the world's leading food and drinks company, is a major consumer of palm oil. In the last three years, its annual use has almost doubled, with 320,000 tonnes of palm oil going into a range of products, including KitKat. (2)  A company statement yesterday confirmed they would cut direct contracts with Sinar Mas.

"Despite their announcement canceling their direct orders with Sinar Mas, Nestle will still be using palm oil from Sinar Mas in KitKats, because they'll still be getting it from their other suppliers. The Greenpeace campaign will continue until Nestle has cut the Sinar Mas group from its supply chain completely, said Maitar.

The 'Caught Red-Handed' report launch follows numerous attempts to persuade Nestlé to cancel its contracts with Sinar Mas. Most recently, in December, Greenpeace wrote to Nestlé with evidence that Sinar Mas is breaking Indonesian law and ignoring its commitments as a member the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the industry body that claims to be making the palm oil industry more sustainable. Evidence shows Sinar Mas's forest destruction continues. (3)  In the face of its unacceptable environmental practices, several major companies, including Unilever and Kraft, have cancelled their contracts with the group. (4)

"Sinar Mas is not only responsible for continued extermination of Indonesia's biodiversity but its relentless drive to expand its plantations in Indonesia threatens the very livelihood of millions of people dependent on our forests", said Maitar.

"Other big companies are taking action, but Nestlé has not done enough to give the orang-utan a break.  They must stop using palm oil from suppliers like Sinar Mas that are destroying the rainforests and clean up their entire supply chain," stressed Maitar.

Indonesia has one of the fastest rates of forest destruction on the planet, with palm oil plantations being a major cause. (5) As a result, it is now the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter, after China and the US. (6)

Notes to Editors: (1) Caught Red-Handed: How Nestlé's Use of Palm Oil is Having a Devastating Impact on Rainforest, The Climate and Orang-utans at: NOTE: Globally, KitKat is one of the best-known Nestlé products containing palm oil. In the United States, KitKat is licensed to Hershey Foods Corporation through an original agreement executed with Rowntree Products in 1969. In 1988, Nestlé purchased Rowntree and markets Nestlé products worldwide outside of the United States. The Greenpeace report does not examine Hershey Foods Corporation's palm oil sourcing. (2) In communication with Nestlé October 2007, Nestlé admitted to using 170,000 tonnes of palm based oil. According to Nestlé, by February 2010, its use had risen to 320,000 tonnes. See Nestlé response to BBC Panorama questionnaire sent to major food manufactures in the UK, in connection to its programme "Dying for a biscuit", 22 February 2010: (3) Illegal forest clearance and RSPO greenwash: Case study of Sinar Mas at and photographic evidence of Sinar Mas subsidiary PT. Agro Lestari Mandiri clearing forest in Ketapang, West Kalimantan, 9 March 2010. (4) Unilever cancelled its $30 million (21 million euros) annual contract in 2009, see: Kraft announced the cancellation of its contract with Sinar Mas in a letter to Greenpeace, 16 February 2010. Both moves followed Greenpeace evidence of Sinar Mas's environmental destruction. (5) FAO 2005. Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) 2005: ; on palm oil: (6) WRI 2008. Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) Version 6.0 (Washington, DC: World Resources Institute)

Take action!

Nestlé, maker of Kit Kat, uses palm oil from companies who are trashing Indonesian rainforests, threatening the livelihoods of local people and pushing orang-utans towards extinction. Tell Nestlé to give the rainforests a break!

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