In a remarkable victory for two nonprofits, the caring consumer and endangered orangutans, Nestle announced today that it will no longer buy palm oil from companies that contribute to the destruction of rainforests. The nonprofit Forest Trust today confirmed that it will work with Nestle to help the corporation rid its products of the palm oil that is unsustainably produced and also of paper and lumber products that similarly cause deforestation by vetting and monitoring the corporate giant’s supply chain of vendors.
The agreement comes after a campaign by Greenpeace that highlighted the irresponsibility of the corporation’s sourcing. This edgy ad, which went viral, shows a bored office worker what he is really consuming when he bites into a KitKat made from irresponsibly sourced palm oil:
Gross? Yeah. Effective? Oh yeah! Today’s announcement by Nestle comes just two months after this ad’s release; Nestle tried to remove the video from circulation, but it went viral, and public outcry ensued.
A simple boycott of KitKats or other products would be ineffective in this situation, since palm oil is ubiquitous in everything from chocolate to cosmetics to some biofuels. The strategy of putting pressure on the producer to in turn pressure its supply chain seems to be working in this case, and is a great model for future action.
The Forest Trust will work with Nestle and its suppliers to ensure that palm oil is sourced sustainably; Greenpeace will also monitor implementation and compliance. Greenpeace Senior Campaign Advisor Andy Tait noted that this could and should be a positive message to palm oil producers: “if you don’t stop deforestation and protect peatlands, your days of supplying to global brands such as Nestle are over. This is a very positive step forward by Nestle, but delivery is critical, and we will be monitoring progress carefully.”
Nestle and The Forest Trust will work together to ensure that it acquires palm oil only from companies that comply with local laws, protect high-value conservation areas, and “Support the free prior and informed consent of indigenous and local communities to activities on their customary lands where plantations are developed.” These guidelines will be communicated to all its global suppliers, who will also be audited, and will exclude those who breach the guidelines.
Today’s announcement is a victory for wildlife and the environment, but much remains to be done, and vigilance is key. Hats off to The Forest Trust, Greenpeace and all the consumers who pledge every day to live their beliefs through action.
Photo by author.
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