After a recent rash of new commitments from a number of its fellow consumer goods giants and a number of not-so-subtle hints from Greenpeace (including a high-profile protest at the company’s Cincinnati headquarters last month), Procter and Gamble (P&G) has announced a new “no deforestation” policy that pledges to eliminate palm oil-related forest destruction from its products and provide full traceability for all the palm oil and derivatives it uses.
Greenpeace has welcomed the move as a huge step forward in protecting Indonesia’s rainforests and the communities that depend on them, but the NGO warned that much work still remains.
"Greenpeace applauds P&G for making a much stronger commitment to sourcing sustainable palm oil,” said Greenpeace palm oil campaigner Joao Talocchi. "The important thing now is for P&G to push all its palm oil suppliers to live up to these standards and do this as quickly as possible, in order to make a real difference to the rainforests of Indonesia and the lives of people and tigers that depend on them.”
A Greenpeace study released in February 2014 highlighted serious violations committed by a number of P&G’s known suppliers and the subsequent public outcry saw almost 400,000 people email the company’s CEO demanding P&G take much stronger measures to stop the destruction of habitat that is home to the endangered Sumatran tiger and orangutan, amongst other species.
In response, P&G has promised to take measures removing all deforestation from its palm oil supply chains by 2020. The policy goes beyond existing criteria from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and requires the company’s suppliers to guarantee there will be no conversion of peatland, that the rights of local communities will be respected and that high carbon stock and high conservation value areas will be protected.
“If fully implemented, P&G’s announcement brings us much closer to the tipping point in which a strong No Deforestation policy becomes an entry-level requirement for major buyers of palm oil,” said Talocchi. “Colgate, Mars, L'Oréal, Ferrero, Unilever and Kellogg have all made strong commitments in the past four months, while Nestlé has been trying to address irresponsible palm oil for several years. This has already triggered some suppliers to adopt similar policies and can have a major impact on the ground in Indonesia.”
As Greenpeace has asserted, the key words are “fully implemented,” which was not all that the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) found in their investigation of 30 such commitments last month. The successes and failures were detailed in a scorecard — Donuts, Deodorant and Deforestation.