Nestle to save orangutans, tropical forests, and our climate

by Philip Radford

May 18, 2010

Finally… some good news! Nestle, the world’s biggest food and drinks company, announced that it will cease using products that drive the tropical rainforest destruction.

This is great news for our environment in what has otherwise been a bleak few weeks. President Obama continues to dig in (or drill in) and stand firm behind his plans to increase offshore oil drilling despite the BP Deepwater oil disaster and continues to work to lift the ban on commercial whaling.

In the midst of it all, Nestle’s recent act is a refreshing act of leadership.


Here is why this matters: 17 percent of global-warming pollution comes from deforestation. Brazil and Indonesia are among the four most polluting countries (with China and the U.S.) because cutting trees releases carbon pollution.

To address the main driver of deforestation in Brazil — cattle ranching — Greenpeace worked with Nike, Wal-Mart, Timberland, and other companies to pressure their suppliers to stop grazing cattle on recently deforested land.

In Indonesia, palm oil and pulp plantations are both driving deforestation and pushing orangutans to the brink of extinction. After being caught red-handed, Nestle has committed to identify and exclude companies from its supply chain that own or manage "high-risk plantations or farms linked to deforestation." This exclusion would apply to companies such as Sinar Mas, Indonesia’s most notorious palm-oil and pulp-and-paper supplier, if it fails to meet the criteria set out in the policy. It also has implications for palm oil traders, such as Cargill, which continue to buy from Sinar Mas.

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