Jakarta, Indonesia – Palm oil suppliers to the world’s largest brands, including Unilever, Nestlé, Colgate-Palmolive and Mondelez, have destroyed an area of rainforest almost twice the size of Singapore in less than three years, according to a new investigation by Greenpeace International.
Greenpeace International assessed deforestation by 25 major palm oil producers and found that:
- 25 palm oil groups had cleared over 130,000ha of rainforest since the end of 2015
- 40% of deforestation (51,600ha) was in Papua, Indonesia – one of the most biodiverse regions on earth and until recently untouched by the palm oil industry
- 12 brands were sourcing from at least 20 of the palm oil groups: Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills, Hershey, Kellogg’s, Kraft Heinz, L’Oreal, Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever
- Wilmar, the world’s largest palm oil trader, was buying from 18 of the palm oil groups
The investigation exposes the total failure of Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm oil trader, to break its links to rainforest destruction. In 2013, Greenpeace International revealed that Wilmar and its suppliers were responsible for deforestation, illegal clearance, fires on peatland and extensive clearance of tiger habitat. Later that year, Wilmar announced a groundbreaking ‘no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation’ policy. Yet Greenpeace’s analysis found that Wilmar still gets its palm oil from groups that are destroying rainforests and stealing land from local communities.
“Palm oil can be produced without destroying rainforests. But our investigation shows that the palm oil Wilmar trades is still utterly contaminated with rainforest destruction. Household brands like Unilever, Nestlé, Colgate-Palmolive and Mondelez promised their customers they’d only use clean palm oil but they haven’t kept that promise. Brands must fix this problem once and for all by cutting Wilmar off until it can prove its palm oil is clean,” said Kiki Taufik, head of Greenpeace’s global Indonesia forests campaign.
In addition to deforestation, the 25 individual cases in the report include evidence of exploitation and social conflicts, illegal deforestation, development without permits, plantation development in areas zoned for protection and forest fires linked to land clearance. It is also the most comprehensive assessment of deforestation in Papua, Indonesia.
“Papua is one of the most biodiverse places on earth, and its pristine forests had until recently been spared the destruction happening elsewhere in Indonesia. But now the palm oil industry is moving in and clearing forest at an alarming rate. If we don’t stop them then Papua’s beautiful forests will be destroyed for palm oil just like Sumatra and Kalimantan,” said Taufik.
Palm oil impacts on environment, people and climate:
- Half of the Bornean orangutan population has been wiped out in just 16 years, with habitat destruction by the palm oil industry a leading driver. More than three-quarters of Tesso Nilo national park, home to tigers, orangutans and elephants, has been converted into illegal palm oil plantations. Globally, 193 species classified as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable, are threatened by palm oil production.
- The plantation sector – palm oil and pulp – is the single largest driver of deforestation in Indonesia. Around 24 million hectares of rainforest was destroyed in Indonesia between 1990 and 2015, according to official figures released by the Indonesian government .
- Deforestation and peatland destruction are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change. This has pushed Indonesia into the top tier of global emitters, alongside the United States of America and China.
- Plantation development is a root cause of Indonesia’s forest and peatland fires. In July 2015, devastating blazes spread in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua. These fires produced a haze that affected millions of people across Southeast Asia. Researchers at Harvard and Columbia Universities estimate that the smoke from 2015 Indonesian fires may have caused 100,000 premature deaths. The World Bank calculated the cost of the disaster at US$16bn.
- Wilmar International and other palm oil companies are regularly accused of exploiting workers, children and local communities.
Photos and video are available here
 Final Countdown: Now or never to reform the palm oil industry
 Figures cover loss of natural forest. Sources:
1990–2012: MoEF (2016b) Table Annex 5.1, pp90–1 – gross deforestation 21,339,301ha
2012–2013: MoEF (2014) Lampiran 1, Tabel 1.1 – gross deforestation 953,977ha
2013–2014: MoEF (2015) Lampiran 1, Tabel 1.1 – gross deforestation 567,997ha
2014–2015: MoEF (2016a) Lampiran 1, Tabel 1.1 – gross deforestation 1,223,553ha
Sol Gosetti, International Communications Coordinator, Indonesia Forest campaign, [email protected], +44 (0) 7380845754
Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), [email protected]
incredible how many products use palm oil . Looking at labels and making sure its certified as responsibly sourced is something we all can do
It is so difficult to find products that are completely palm oil free. I live in Ireland and am so depressed about what is happening to Orangutans they were there first soon there will be none left
Please stop our importance rainforests in the Indonesia please to stop all the illegal plamoil ingredients production please contract the right people To take action against the plamoil ingredients production it illegal business it shouldn't have be carried any longer please we need to start action against the plamoil ingredients production please it pushes our environment endangered species animals which are closing relatively to us please we need the environment health people right now please there is no time to lose thank you
After watching the BBC news last night my husband and I were horrified to learn about deforestation of Palm trees for palm oil. Some palm oil comes from sustainable sources who do not exploit children, destroy the homes and lands of the indigenous people who rely on the forests for their homes and food and promise medical aid for these people but never provide it. What manufacturers who use Palm Oil should be made to do is list under their ingredients Palm Oil as Palm Oil and no other name legally. What the general public must be made aware of is the companies who use Palm Oil from unsustainable sources and do exploit children and destroy the indigenous people so we decide which companies we want to use and which ones to avoid. That way we can hit the pockets of the companies who do not care.
no one cares
Except you? You took the time to read & learn. Just talk about this now & spread the news so your kids can enjoy a world full of diverse & healthy species.
you're right Lana, thank you
We need a list of products that contains palm oil so we can boycott them via social media
Hi Isabelle and thank you for your comment! In fact, we don't want people to boycott products with palm oil. There are ways to grow palm oil sustainably and without destroying the environment, and that is what we need to demand from those companies: transparency and commitment to buy palm oil from sustainable sources.
The horrific and needless destruction of the forests and natural habitat of some of the worlds most unique species, of only impacts on local communities, but the very existence of the planet. We simply must petition Indonesia to halt this destruction by large corporates who exploit the harvest and resource of Palm Oil. Boycott those companies and lobby your local MP and support Greenpeace to save not only these wonderful animals but effectively our planet. We DONT need Palm oil it’s not an essential ingredient.
Money. It's about money. Human greed. They don't care.
this is so sad
Unilever, Nestlé, Colgate-Palmolive and Mondelez – shame shame shame hey shame on you!
And shame on all of us who use their products too.