Report – By Ethan Harfenist in Jakarta
Greenpeace has accused household product multinational Procter & Gamble of sourcing palm oil from environmentally destructive firms, finding the US corporation complicit in the encroachment of Sumatran tiger habitats, slash-and-burn clearing and the presence of an “orangutan graveyard”.
The environmental NGO criticised the company for sourcing “dirty” palm oil from allegedly unscrupulous suppliers in a report titled “Procter & Gamble’s Dirty Secret”.
The report, the result of a yearlong investigation by Greenpeace International, uncovered evidence that Procter & Gamble-linked palm oil companies were involved in the destruction of orangutan and Sumatran tiger habitats and the kind of slash-and-burn land clearing methods responsible for the region’s annual haze.
“The maker of Head & Shoulders needs to stop bringing rainforest destruction into our showers,” Bustar Maitar, head of the Indonesian forest campaign at Greenpeace International, said in a press statement.
“It must clean up its act and guarantee its customers that these products are forest friendly.”
Greenpeace urged Procter & Gamble to adopt a “zero deforestation” pledge and undergo a serious review of its supply chain.
“Procter & Gamble should follow the lead of other palm oil using companies like Unilever, Nestlé and L’Oréal, which have already promised to clean up their supply chains,” Bustar said.
Palm oil is the world’s most ubiquitous vegetable oil and a main driver of deforestation in Indonesia. The oil accounted for roughly 40 percent of the world’s vegetable oil production from 2012-2013, and it is a key ingredient in many household products, such as Procter & Gamble’s Head & Shoulders shampoo and Gillette shaving gel.
Procter & Gamble purchased some 462,000 tons of palm oil between 2012-2013, much of it derived from plantations located in Indonesia. In its 2012 sustainability report, Procter & Gamble promised to achieve zero net deforestation, in accordance with the Consumer Goods Forum.
The company pledges, according to its website, to “confirm that all palm oil purchases have originated from responsible and sustainable sources by 2015″. Less than a year shy of this goal, Greenpeace has found this commitment lacking.
“We’ve been confronting P&G over the last eight months with how it’s exposing consumers to forest destruction,” said Areeba Hamid, forest campaigner at Greenpeace International. “Instead of taking urgent action, the company has been greenwashing its actions.”
One of the companies Greenpeace zeroes in on in its report is BW Plantation, a Jakarta-based firm that is a third-party supplier for Asian Agri — a palm oil company owned by Sukanto Tanoto’s RGE Group. BW Plantation is allegedly responsible for the recent clearance of orangutan habitats in Central Kalimantan.
The company is also linked to a police investigation into an “orangutan graveyard” next to the province’s Tanjung Puting National Park, a 416,000-hectare nature reserve known for its orangutan conservation activities.
Another company mentioned as a direct supplier of Procter & Gamble is Singapore-based Musim Mas, which owns one of Asia’s largest palm oil refineries. Greenpeace links the firm and two alleged suppliers — Globalindo Alam Perkasa Estate II (GAP II) and Multipersada Gatramegah (MPG) — to deforestation and orangutan habitat destruction in Central Kalimantan and Papua.
Musim Mas denied involvement in deforestation in an email to the Jakarta Globe, rejecting the claim outright that the company supplies Procter & Gamble or is involved with the listed suppliers.
“MPG and GAP II are still not in MM’s supply chain, and certainly not supplying to P&G,” said Gan Lian Tiong, Musim Mas’s head of sustainability.
The company is “fully committed to the production of sustainable palm oil and strictly follows RSPO [Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil] standards which entail non-conversion of High Conservation Value Forest, and non-replacement of primary forest,” he continued.
Proctor & Gamble and BW Plantation were not immediately available for comment.
Greenpeace has been engaged in a highly vocal campaign against destructive and unsustainable agricultural business practices in Indonesia for decades. The group has been successful in forcing corporate change through campaigns raising awareness of the involvement of large multinational companies in deforestation in Indonesia and abroad.
In October, a report titled “Licence to Kill: How deforestation is driving Sumatran tigers toward extinction,” focused on questionable sourcing by Wilmar — the world’s largest palm oil trader. The Singapore-based company has since announced a zero deforestation policy.
Asia Pulp & Paper, the world’s largest pulp company, caved to similar pressure after losing several high-profile clients to Greenpeace’s once-active campaign against the paper company. APP has now adopted similar sustainability goals and invited Greenpeace to oversee the process as an independent observer.
“Greenpeace believes palm oil must make a genuine contribution to Indonesia’s development,” Bustar said. “Progressive palm oil producers in the Palm Oil Innovation Group, along with ambitious commitments from big palm oil players GAR and Wilmar, prove that there is a business case for responsible palm oil.
“There is no excuse for companies like P&G, Reckitt Benckiser and Colgate Palmolive to delay immediate action on deforestation.”
Palm oil production is the largest cause of deforestation in Indonesia, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. The country was home to nearly half of the world’s palm oil plantations in 2006 after years of concession land grabs, illegal logging and lax law enforcement, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Source: The Jakarta Globe