Site icon Conservation news

Greenpeace rates consumer goods giants’ no-deforestation progress

Oil palm fruit in Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

  • Greenpeace released a scorecard on 14 companies’ progress eliminating deforestation from their supply chains.
  • Nestle and Ferrero scored the highest; Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson and PepsiCo scored the lowest.
  • Most of the companies don’t plan to be deforestation-free until 2020, which betrays a lack of urgency, the NGO contends.

Most consumer goods giants with commitments to eliminate deforestation from their palm oil supply chains are “moving far too slowly,” according to a new Greenpeace scorecard that rates their progress.

The NGO surveyed 14 global companies and assessed them based on three criteria: responsible sourcing, transparency and industry reform.

Nestle and Ferrero scored the highest, while Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson and PepsiCo fared the worst. Danone, General Mills, Ikea, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez, Orkla, P&G and Unilever were in the middle.

“None of the companies we surveyed are able to say with any certainty that there is no deforestation in their palm oil supply chain,” Greenpeace wrote in the report.

A landscape of oil palm viewed from the air in the Malaysian state of Sabah, on the island of Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

The conglomerates can have massive supply chains, and purging them of deforestation is a major undertaking. But Greenpeace notes that some could be doing more. None of the firms publishes a full list of its palm oil suppliers, for example.

That stands in contrast with the palm oil traders that have signed onto the Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge, most of which have mapped their supply chains down to the mill level and list their suppliers on their websites. Several of the companies Greenpeace surveyed have yet to achieve that level of traceability.

“Some companies are making significant progress. A few have changed their purchasing and are trying to take control over their supply chain by predominantly buying physically certified Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) palm oil,” Greenpeace wrote. “Others are succeeding in tracing large volumes of the oil they buy back to the plantation where it was grown. While neither of these actions is proof that suppliers are not responsible for deforestation, each can be an interim step towards understanding and remedying supply chain problems.”

Oil palm fruit in a motorbike basket in Indonesia’s Riau province. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Most of the companies “do not anticipate being deforestation-free until 2020,” which is “nowhere near urgent enough,” according to the NGO.

“So far, companies have been focusing on tracing the palm oil they buy to the mill and then to the plantation where it was grown. That is just the first step towards addressing the problems in companies’ palm oil supply chains. In 2016, companies need to start actively monitoring their suppliers for deforestation, peatland destruction, labour issues and social conflicts – and should take swift action against persistent offenders.”

Greenpeace encouraged the companies to work with an implementation partner to realize their commitments, and to seek third-party verification of their progress.