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Nestlé buckles to Greenpeace pressure on Unsustainable Palm Oil

Greenpeace’s two month long campaign against the multinational food and consumer goods giant, Nestlé’s use of unsustainable palm oil sources has shown results. Nestlé announced in a press release that they will partnering with the non-profit organisation, The Forest Trust, to systematically identify and exclude companies owning or managing high risk plantations or farms linked to deforestation.

According to Greenpeace International’s Press release:

Pat Venditti, Greenpeace International Forest Campaign Head said “We are delighted that Nestlé plans to give orang-utans a break and we call on other international retailers, such as Carrefour and Wal-mart, to do the same. Since the beginning of our campaign, hundreds of thousands of people have contacted Nestlé  to say that they will not buy products linked to rainforest destruction.”

Under its new policy, Nestlé commits 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.

“Nestlé’s move sends a clear message to Sinar Mas and to the rest of the palm oil and paper industries that rainforest destruction is not acceptable in the global marketplace. They need to clean up their act and move to implement a moratorium on rainforest destruction and full peatland protection. Greenpeace will closely monitor and push for the rapid implementation of Nestlé’s plan,” said Venditti.

Global demand for both palm oil and paper is increasing, with the Sinar Mas corporation expanding into Indonesia’s forests and peatlands. As a result, the country has one of the fastest rates of forest destruction on the planet and is the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter, after China and the United States.  Palm oil is used in a huge range of products – from chocolate, toothpaste and cosmetics to so-called ‘climate friendly’ biofuels.

As the note also said, “Sinar Mas has a long history of breaking its environmental promises, both in the palm oil and the pulp and paper sectors. It currently has 406,000 hectares of oil palm plantations and plans to develop another 1.3 million hectares for plantations in Papua and Kalimantan.

Orangutan Camp leakeyRainforests are one of the most rapidly disappearing ecosystems in the world. South East Asian rainforests are home to many endangered species, such as the Sumatran rhinoceros and the orangutans which are found in pockets of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia.

According to Mongabay, “ Indonesia is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world due largely to deforestation. Between 1990 and 2005, Indonesia lost more than 28 million hectares of forest, including 21.7 hectares of virgin forest. The country’s forest cover has declined from 82 percent in the 1960s to less than fifty percent today.”

 

Greenpeace’s campaign success shows what new media is capable of. It started off with this YouTube video showing Nestlé’s use of palm oil in its products and its contribution to rainforest deforestation. Nestlé removed this for copyright infringement for use of its logo, and that’s when it all boomeranged.

The campaign went viral on facebook and twitter, with Nestlé’s facebook page turning quite nasty due to an explosion of user comments. To make matters worse, Nestlé’s facebook administrators handled the situation quite tactlessly in their replies. It was a PR fiasco for Nestle.

All this goes to show that with social media tools and online campaigns, concerned consumers can indeed make a dent on even the biggest of multinationals to make them improve their environmental behaviour.

 

Photo courtesy: Orangutan : Marina & Enrique on Flickr

Further links you may be interested in:

EWTT: How to find Hidden Palm Oil in Supermarkets

EWTT: Engaging local communities in S.E.Asian Peat Swamp Regeneration 

EWTT: Social Media and Climate Change Activism

Mongabay: A new world? Social media protest against Nestle may have long standing ramifications

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Posted by on May 18 2010. Filed under Biodiversity, Biodiversity & Ecosystems, Green Events/Campaigns, S.E.Asia/Australasia. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Nestlé buckles to Greenpeace pressure on Unsustainable Palm Oil”

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