Big brands under scrutiny over rainforest destruction

Multinational brands such as Nestlé, McDonald’s and PepsiCo have been criticised by environmental campaigners as new report reveals they buy palm oil from companies responsible for massive deforestation in Sumatra.

A new investigation by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) shed light on the issue of sustainably sourced palm oil – a key ingredient to many foods and household goods.

Thanks to satellite images, the group found out that palm oil company PT. Agra Bumi Niaga has continued to expand in Sumatra despite an Indonesian-wide moratorium on forest clearance for new palm oil development.

Throughout a complex system of suppliers, palm oil makes its way to several corporations in Europe, USA and Canada. Some of these are very well-known brands like PepsiCo, McDonald’s, Nestle, Unilever, Kellogg’s, Mars and Procter & Gamble.

If we can track these companies with our limited resources, surely global corporations worth billions can track these companies as well,” said Gemma Tillack, Agribusiness Campaign Director for RAN, who ran an investigation just a few months ago, again finding evidence of illegal deforestation.

The critical issue linked to deforestation on the island is linked to the loss of habitat for some key species, such as Sumatran elephants, orangutans, rhinos and tigers, who share the Leuser ecosystem.

These traders, and many of these brands, have made public promises that the palm oil they buy and sell does not contribute to deforestation, clearance on peatlands, or exploitation,” added Tillack.

The fact that it repeatedly takes the work of NGOs to expose these types of issues in their supply chains is simply unacceptable, and shows that the companies are not enforcing a moratorium of forest destruction themselves.

Palm oil became a controversial product in the past years, as it emerged its cultivation causes massive deforestation is Southeast Asia and Africa. For this reason, consumers and environmental ONG have repeatedly call for more sustainable practices.

Photo: vincentraal via Flickr

 

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