Forest Destroying Products and Producers, Time’s Up!

by Kiki Taufik

September 19, 2018

If big brands want our business, they need to earn it. If they promise something important — and protecting rainforests is super important — then they need to keep that promise. So starting today, we’re going to be calling out the biggest brands and demanding that they get with the program.

Sixty Greenpeace volunteers, many in full orangutan costumes, occupied the Unilever factory in Port Sunlight, near Liverpool. Eight teams of activists have scaled perimeter fences, entered the plant at different points and hung a giant banner from the front entrance of the factory, they are highlighting that Indonesia's rainforests are being destroyed to grow palm oil which Unilever use in their products.

© Will Rose / Greenpeace

A lot has happened while Greenpeace has been fighting forest destruction for palm oil.

Apple invented the iPhone. Shell went into — and pulled out of — the Arctic. Spain, Germany, and France won the World Cup.

We had some campaign wins too. Back in 2010, the makers of KitKat, Ritz crackers, Doritos, Dove, and Colgate toothpaste promised that they’d stop doing business with forest destroyers and would only buy palm oil from responsible companies that protect rainforests.

2010 was a really long time ago. So why are Indonesia’s rainforests still getting destroyed by palm oil companies?

Greenpeace has spent the better part of the last two years answering that question. Our investigation took us all over the world: conference centers in Bali, Paris and Washington DC; rainforests in Sumatra, Papua and Borneo; corporate HQs in London, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Paris and cities all over the USA.

The answer is really simple. Despite promising not to buy palm oil from rainforest destroyers, the world’s biggest brands are, in fact, still buying palm oil from rainforest destroyers.

Greenpeace researchers investigated the 25 most notorious palm oil producers in Southeast Asia. Our report, Final Countdown, lays out what we found. It isn’t easy reading. Between them, these 25 dirty major producers had destroyed over 130,000 hectares of rainforest since 2015 — an area almost twice the size of Singapore.

One of several plantations in Indonesia that shows the extent of deforestation for palm oil plantations © Irmawan / Greenpeace.

It isn’t even just forest destruction. We also documented worker exploitation, conflicts with communities, illegal deforestation, development without permits, plantation development in areas zoned for protection and forest fires linked to land clearance.

But it gets worse — because these are the producers that big brands get their palm oil from.

In fact, brands were getting their palm oil from 24 of the 25 (the other one wasn’t producing palm oil yet). 12 brands – including the makers of Kit-Kat, Colgate toothpaste, Johnson’s Baby Lotion, Dove, Doritos, Kellogg’s Pop Tarts, Ritz crackers, M&M’s and Head & Shoulders – had at least 20 of these dirty growers in their supply chains.

The time is up for forest-destroying products and producers.

If big brands want our business, they need to earn it. If they promise something important — and protecting rainforests is super important — then they need to keep that promise. So starting today, we’re going to be calling out the biggest brands and demanding that they get with the program.

That means only buying palm oil from producers that can prove they aren’t destroying rainforests — and cutting off Wilmar, the rogue trader selling them this dirty palm oil.

It’s up to us to make this happen. Are you in? Sign this petition to tell big companies to stop buying palm oil from forest-destroyers!

By Kiki Taufik

Kiki Taufik is the Global Head of Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s Indonesian forests campaign.

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