Nestle Passes the Buck While Clock Ticks

by Rolf Skar

April 28, 2010

Greenpeace just released fresh evidence that palm oil and pulp and paper giant Sinar Mas continues to destroy critical Paradise rainforest areas despite promises not to do so.  This builds on the case we made in our Caught Red Handed report, that companies like Nestle which buy large amounts of palm oil need to cut Sinar Mas out of their supply chains entirely.

New Evidence report After mountains of bad press, an unprecedented online outcry and actions from China to Switzerland, Nestle has responded to our campaign…sort of.

Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe released a public statement to explain what Nestle is doing (or not doing) to address its links to deforestation.  His statement has been a main feature on the Nestle homepage since the company’s shareholder meeting – which was invaded by orangutans and banner dropping activists.

His statement expresses concern about rainforests and peatlands, but does not make commitments that would go far enough to save them.

In addition to side-stepping adequate action, Brabeck tried to shift blame onto the biofuels industry, another large user of palm oil.  It is true that growing demand for palm oil derived biofuels for transportation is a real threat to rainforests.  This is not news to anyone, especially Greenpeace forest campaigners who have been working the issue for years.  But Brabeck’s half-hearted attempt to shift the blame does not erase his company’s contribution to the problem.

So, what has Nestle actually done to deal with its palm oil problem?  A few hours after our global campaign began, Nestle canceled direct contracts with Sinar Mas.  But Nestle’s direct contracts with Sinar Mas made up a very small amount of the company’s overall palm oil purchases.  Nestle continues to use palm oil and other products from Sinar Mas via third party suppliers such as agribusiness giant Cargill.  

Brabeck’s statement said that "Cargill has informed us that Sinar Mas needs to answer Greenpeace’s allegations by the end of April. They have indicated that they will delist Sinar Mas if they do not take corrective action by then."  There are only two days left in April.Nestle  AGM

If Cargill misses this deadline, or does not delist Sinar Mas, what will Nestle do?

Will the largest food and drink company hold its suppliers like Cargill accountable?  Will it follow-up words with real action?  Do Nestle executives actually think empty promises and half-measures will stop the public outcry over orangutan habitat destruction, deforestation and climate pollution?  Let’s ask them!

Tweet a question to: @Nestle.

Fill out their customer service form.

And click on our take action page to deliver your message to Nestle.

Ask Nestlé what it will do if Cargill does not confirm by end of this week that it will drop Sinar Mas. Read fresh evidence of forest destruction and the fascinating first hand account from Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner Joko Arif here.

Rolf Skar

By Rolf Skar

Rolf Skar is the Campaigns Director at Greenpeace USA. Since 2007, Rolf has contributed to international Greenpeace campaigns to stop deforestation in the Canadian boreal forest, the Paradise forests of Southeast Asia, and the Brazilian Amazon.

We Need Your Voice. Join Us!

Want to learn more about tax-deductible giving, donating stock and estate planning?

Visit Greenpeace Fund, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable entity created to increase public awareness and understanding of environmental issues through research, the media and educational programs.