World’s largest wealth fund drops PepsiCo partner because of profits from unsustainable palm oil

Palm oil plantation and deforestation likely caused by Indiofood partner, photo by Wakx, flickr

Palm oil plantation and deforestation likely caused by Indiofood partner, photo by Wakx, flickr

Consumers are speaking up and corporations are paying attention. And, like us, they’re voting with their dollars.

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An orangutan speaks up about rainforest destruction

Palm oil is one of the ingredients in a wide variety of our everyday foods. Few of us think much about it, yet where it comes from and its impact on our environment is huge.

Palm plantations are being created at the expense of rainforests, which are decimated in order to keep up with the global demand for palm oil. The impact of this effects biodiversity and, even more importantly, the wildlife that live and depend on these beautiful, old growth natural wonders.

Here is a moving video that brings it all home in its simplicity. If you take anything away from viewing it, it’s that being aware of what’s in the food you eat means something, is connected to the natural (or unnatural) order of things and that what you buy matters.

Burger King drops palm oil supplier over its record of rainforest destruction

What deforestation for palm oil looks like in Indonesia

Burger King announced they’ll no longer purchase palm oil from Sinar Mas, one of the world’s leading exporters of palm oil, or it subsidiaries after an independent audit revealed that one of its subsidiaries had destroyed rainforests and carbon-dense peatlands in Borneo and Sumatra.

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Nestle to quit buying palm oil linked to deforestation

Nestle logoSeems like the sustainable bandwagon is moving ahead. Contrary to my less than optimistic view when Unilever announced they’d stop buying palm oil from an Indonesian planter involved in deforestation, now Nestle is joining the party.

After a two month campaign by Greenpeace, Nestle announced plans to stop buying palm oil from Sinar Mas Group, an Indonesian lumber and chemical products conglomerate accused by Greenpeace of illegal deforestation practices. Nestle says it has partnered with The Forest Trust, a non-profit organization that works to help companies establish sustainable supply chains.  to “focus on the systematic identification and exclusion of companies owning or managing high risk plantations or farms linked to deforestation.”

Nestle has set a goal of making its palm oil products 100 percent sustainable by 2015.  It’s currently at 18 percent.

Greenpeace’s campaign to “help” Nestle shift their palm oil practices included spurring consumers to take action with over 200,000 sent e-mail messages, hundreds of phone calls and countless Facebook comments.

So I’m a bit more optimistic this time around with another corporate giant making noises and taking action towards creating a sustainable supply chain. Who’ll be next to jump on this bandwagon?

Unilever to stop buying palm oil from Indonesia

Palm Fruit harvest in Indonesia

Palm Fruit harvest in Indonesia

Top consumer goods manufacturer Unilever has reportedly told dealers to stop buying palm oil from Indonesian planter Duta Palma due to concerns over rainforest destruction.

Unilever, who has been one of the world’s foremost palm oil buyers, halted their contract with the planter shortly after a documentary aired by the BBC which showed Duta Palma staff clearing rainforests for oil palm estates that produce the oil used in Unilever products including Dove soap and Stork margarine.

The consumer products giant uses around 1.3 million metric tons of palm oil annually. Targeted by environmentalists sand green-minded consumers for their deforestation and peatland clearance practices, Unilever has pledged to only purchase from certified sustainable palm plantations after 2015.

Deforestation makes way for palm oil plantations

Deforestation makes way for palm oil plantations

Indonesia and Malaysia produce at least 80 percent of the world’s palm oil supply.

One could be cautiously optimistic about this announcement. However, based on my observations and limited research last Fall into the real sustainability of palm oil, I wonder if perhaps this is a simply case of finding a better way of looking good while continuing to make hand-over-fist profits.