The devastating effects of deforestation and efforts to end it are at the forefront of the sustainability conversation, and global corporations across a variety of industries have responded with zero-deforestation commitments. And, as both PepsiCo and Asia Pulp and Paper have learned in the last few weeks alone, there are plenty of NGOs and other stakeholders on hand to hold companies accountable if it appears they aren’t following through. But two major players took steps last week in an effort to prove that they are doing just that.
Mars announced three new policies aimed at reducing deforestation in its beef and soy supply chains by the end of 2017, and its pulp and paper supply chain by the end of 2016. The policies fulfill a commitment the food and beverage giant made in its Deforestation Policy, announced March 2014, and outline clear targets that focus on the raw materials through which Mars has the most impact on sensitive forestlands. In line with its existing palm oil policy, these policies are part of a broader Mars effort to protect forests, biodiversity, minimize the carbon footprint of its supply chain and respect human rights.
“Mars is committed to sustainably sourcing the key raw materials that are driving deforestation,” says Barry Parkin, Mars’ Chief Sustainability Officer. “By setting sustainable standards like these across our supply chain, Mars is working to bring real solutions to the complex problem of deforestation.”
Reducing deforestation extends beyond focusing on raw material supply chains, and Mars says it will continue to be actively engaged with government and industry, including the Consumer Goods Forum and civil society stakeholders to drive change collaboratively.
Meanwhile, Wilmar International — the world’s largest palm oil trader — launched the Wilmar Sustainability Dashboard, a microsite dedicated to communicating its progress on implementing the No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation Policy that the company announced just over a year ago.
Key features of this Dashboard include information on Certification Progress, Traceability & Supply Chain, as well as a Grievance Procedure.
Traceability is an important element of shifting the palm oil industry towards responsible practices. To ensure that its Policy is appropriately implemented and progressing towards a traceable and sustainable supply of palm oil products, Wilmar is building on its existing supply chain map in order to trace supply flows from ports and refineries back to oil palm mills, and over time, to plantations.
Wilmar started the supply chain mapping exercise in early 2014 and has since seen improved transparency in its supply chain. Indonesia and Malaysia have been the priority of its traceability exercise but the company says good progress is also being made in Europe, Africa, India and China. These data are updated each quarter to reflect improved supply chain visibility as well as ongoing changes in the supply base over time.
Jeremy Goon, Wilmar’s Chief Sustainability Officer, said, “The launch of the Dashboard is a significant milestone that not only furthers the Group’s transparency efforts as it offers an unprecedented level of disclosure, but also provides the business context that enables the Group to identify and focus on managing material matters. We believe these are critical in transforming the palm oil industry as well as in ensuring that the Group is on track to achieving our aspiration to delink our entire supply chain from deforestation and human rights abuse by end 2015.”
“No agricultural producer has ever aimed for this level of transparency at this massive scale,” said Glenn Hurowitz, Chairman of Forest Heroes, a global campaign to break the link between deforestation and agricultural production. “Consumers around the world want to know where their food comes from, and that it’s grown in a way that’s consistent with their values. It’s a tall order, but the Wilmar Dashboard could actually make it happen.”
Wilmar says its Dashboard is a work in progress and will be updated on a regular basis as new information becomes available.