Greenpeace Urges Nestle to Drop Palm Oil Supplier

by | Mar 23, 2010

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GreenpeaceRainforestDestructionGreenpeace International has launched a campaign against Nestle alleging that popular chocolate bars such as KitKat and Coffee Crisp use palm oil from Sinar Mas, one of the largest producers of palm oil, which is threatening the rainforest, endangering orangutans and reducing carbon dioxide sinks, reports the Vancouver Sun.

Greenpeace Canada senior campaigner Stephanie Goodwin told the Vancouver Sun the environmental group is not against the use of palm oil or vegetable oil in chocolate bars, but wants the industry to develop higher sustainability standards.

Goodwin also said in the article that four percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to come from the destruction of the Indonesian rainforests.

The Greenpeace report, “Caught Red-Handed: How Nestle Use of Palm Oil is Destroying Rainforests and the Climate” (PDF), alleges that Nestle is sourcing palm oil from suppliers including the Sinar Mas Group that continue to expand into virgin rainforests and peatlands including habitat for endangered orangutans.

The report finds that Nestle is a major consumer of palm oil, and in the last three years, its annual consumption of palm oil has almost doubled to 320,000 tons for a range of products, including some of its most popular brands like PowerBar and CoffeeMate.

Greenpeace alleges that Sinar Mas is breaking Indonesian law and is ignoring its commitments as a member the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an industry group aimed at making the palm oil industry more sustainable.

In response to the Greenpeace report, Nestle UK said in a statement at its Website that it does not buy palm oil from the Sinar Mas Group for any products including KitKat. Instead, it purchases palm oil from Cargill. Nestle stated: “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.”

Jose Lopez, head of operations for Nestle, told Guardian Sustainable Business that if Sinar Mas is found to be at fault, the company would cut the company from its supply chain by mid-May.

Nestle has also committed to using only “Certified Sustainable Palm Oil” by 2015, “when sufficient quantities should be available,” and has already purchased Green Palm certificates.

In December last year, Greenpeace ran a similar campaign against Unilever alleging that one of company’s sustainable palm oil providers — Sinar Mas — was instead clear-cutting rain forests to grow more palms. As a result, Unilever dropped Sinar Mas as a supplier.

Greenpeace also notes that Kraft cancelled its contracts with Sinar Mas for the same reason.

Widespread consumer protest also led Cadbury New Zealand to eliminate palm oil from its dairy milk chocolate products, while other companies like Seventh Generation have set goals on their own to exclusively use certified palm oil.

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