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Heinz, Colgate Divulge Forest Footprints, But Many Firms Falling Behind, Report Says

Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Gucci and Heinz reported their forest impacts for the first time this year, but the gap between leading companies and laggards is growing, according to the fourth annual Forest Footprint Disclosure (FFD) Report.

Every year FFD asks the world’s biggest firms to reveal their impact on forests based on the use of five chief commodities — soy, palm oil, timber and pulp, cattle products and biofuels. According to FFD, last year 100 companies disclosed their forest footprints, a 15 percent increase over the previous year.

The organization lauded notable improvements from companies including Boots UK, Kingspan Group and Whitebread Group, and recognized New Britain Palm Oil Ltd., British Sky Broadcasting, Marfrig Group and Prime Asia Leather Corporation as emerging leaders.

Despite this progress, FFD said there is still an average 16 percent difference in scores between leaders and runners-up across all business sectors, reflecting that there is significant work to be done, as many firms continue to lag.

The construction, auto and utilities sectors faced particular criticism due to significant variances and a widespread lack of corporate social responsibility in procurement.

FFD said the 2012 sector leaders share a common commitment to innovation and ensuring the future security of their supply chains by moving towards upstream engagement and displaying a willingness to spend time and money on finding solutions to problems.

This year investment support of FFD grew again and the project is currently backed by more than 180 endorsing investors managing more than $12.8 trillion.

“Reducing rampant deforestation, the ultimate purpose of the FFD, is not just about carbon. It is a global imperative in the move towards more responsible and sustainable use of natural capital,” said Andrew Mitchell, Chairman of FFD. “This underpins wealth creation in the world economy and the security of water, energy, food and health for millions of people.”

A separate report released in October 2012 by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) outlines both alarming challenges and promising opportunities for investors in the so-called soft commodities: agricultural, forest and seafood commodities.

@Bart_King is a freelance writer and communications consultant. @mikehower contributed.


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