5 reasons to applaud L’Oreal’s No Deforestation Policy (and how it could be even better)

by Joao Talocchi

January 30, 2014

A Sumatran tiger is pictured at the Taman safari Park. In Indonesia, forest destruction for palm oil is pushing Sumatran tigers to the edge of extinction, with as few as 400 left in the wild. Companies must commit to zero deforestation and end their role in tiger habitat loss.

© Paul Hilton / Greenpeace

The worlds largest beauty and cosmetics company, LOreal, has made a landmark promise to remove forest destruction from the products they sell.

Their commitment to cut forest destruction from their supply chains is a win for consumers and forests around the world.

Theres a good chance that you use palm oil everyday without even knowing about it. Its an ingredient in products as diverse as shampoo, toothpaste, chocolate, and detergent. Its virtually everywhere. Plantations for palm oil sell their palm oil fruit to traders. And from these companies its sold to huge corporations that make products we find on our supermarket shelves.

Since the launch of our campaign, Nestle, Unilever and Ferrero have committed to “No Deforestation” policies, and now L’Oreal joins this team. Other companies as Mondelez and Hershey have also announced plans to launch policies soon, and we will make sure they keep true to their words. Most of all, Wilmar, the world’s largest palm oil trader has also announced a policy that, if implemented, will be great for the tigers, orangutans, forests and communities of Indonesia and Malaysia.

But what makes L’Oreal’s commitment a good commitment? How is it different from the commitments companies have to 100 percent RSPO or “certified” palm oil?

Well, here it is:

1. L’Oreal is committed to knowing where all of their palm oil comes from by 2015. This means that if forest destruction or abuses to communities is happening on lands from where they buy, they can quickly find out and address the issue.

2. It goes beyond the weak industry standards set by the RSPO, and include the protection of forests and all peat lands, based on their importance as carbon stocks. This means that those big old trees and the animals that depend on them, as the Proboscis Monkey, not to mention the entire Planet, are covered.

3. It also includes the protection of forests due to its value for biodiversity, so Tigers, Orangutans, Elephants, Lorry’s, Tree Kangaroos and others, will have a better chance to survive.

4. It requires Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) from communities before any land is given away to corporations and turned into a palm oil plantation. This means that the people that live in, depend on and are the true protectors of the forests, have the opportunity to learn about projects and say yes or no to plantations on their lands.

5. It puts suppliers on warning, meaning that they have to comply to the policy if they want to continue to sell to L’Oreal. It also has a deadline for when 100 percent of their palm supply will be free from deforestation so forest destruction can stop now.

And here’s where it could be better…

The timeline for Loreal’s 100 percent deforestation free palm oil is 2020, six years away. Considering deforestation rates are as high as 620.000 hectares per year in Indonesia and that less than 400 Sumatran Tigers are left in the wild, we urge LOreal to guarantee their products are forest-friendly sooner rather than later. If Ferrero can set a deadline for 2015, then so can other companies including LOreal. The forests cant wait six more years.

Finally, you might think that the industry should have always operated like this. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality.

And while you may not have sent an email to LOreal about their palm oil use, being part of Greenpeace meant that you didnt need to. Just the possibility that you and millions of others around the world might take action was enough to persuade these companies to act now.

Backed by global people power, we were able to convince LOreal to hammer out a commitment that when implemented, will stand to protect forests.

What’s next:

LOreals commitment puts the heat on those who continue to drag their feet. Greenpeace is challenging the companies that produce brands such as Heads & Shoulders, Colgate and Clearasil to step up and commit to ambitious No Deforestation Policies.

With your help, we will make that happen.

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