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Greenpeace to P&G: Enough with the ‘Dirty’ Palm Oil

Open flames on dry tree branches in an area of recently deforested peatland in the PT Rokan Adiraya Plantation oil palm concession in Riau | Image credit: ©Ifansasti/Greenpeace
Open flames on dry tree branches in an area of recently deforested peatland in the PT Rokan Adiraya Plantation oil palm concession in Riau | Image credit: ©Ifansasti/Greenpeace

Greenpeace launched another massive campaign this week, this time demanding Procter & Gamble end its role in rainforest destruction through its careless sourcing of palm oil.

A yearlong investigation into “P&G’s Dirty Secret” by the corporate watchdog says the maker of dozens of everyday household and personal care products including Olay, Head & Shoulders and Pantene is sourcing palm oil from companies connected to substantial clearance of endangered orangutan habitat in Indonesia, the report also reveals that multiple traders supplying P&G with palm oil buy from a company implicated in a police investigation of numerous orangutan deaths.

“Procter & Gamble is making everyday Americans complicit in the destruction of rainforests by not responsibly sourcing palm oil, an ingredient in products like Head & Shoulders and Oil of Olay,” said Greenpeace palm oil campaigner Joao Talocchi. “Household names like L’Oréal, Nestlé and Unilever have already promised to clean up their supply chains. There’s no reason for P&G not to follow suit.”

While a relatively small user of palm oil — P&G says its use accounts for roughly 1 percent of palm oil and its derivatives — the oil is found in a variety of the company’s beauty and household care products, including detergents, shampoos, hand and body cleansers, bar soaps and color cosmetic products.

Image credit: Greenpeace
Image credit: Greenpeace

Greenpeace says land used for palm oil cultivation owned by the BW Plantation Group, one of several companies connected to P&G’s supply chain, was investigated over the course of several field trips. Investigators documented an orangutan skull buried in a shallow grave within sight of Tanjung Puting National Park (which is famous for orangutan conservation) and further orangutan remains several months later.

“Greenpeace has been warning P&G about the devastating effects of irresponsible palm oil production since 2007,” said Talocchi. “There are ways of producing palm oil that won’t destroy the habitat of the last remaining Sumatran orangutans and tigers. As an organization that buys thousands of tonnes of palm oil each year, P&G can be part of the solution by insisting on palm oil that’s 100% free of forest destruction.”

In October, Greenpeace released the report A Licence to Kill, which linked a host of companies, including P&G, to the destruction of critical Sumatran tiger and orangutan habitats through their association to Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm oil trader, which finally announced a No-Deforestation Policy in December following years of pressure. Similar recent commitments from Hershey and Kellogg continue to highlight the importance of a comprehensive approach to responsible sourcing of this ubiquitous ingredient.

“Progressive palm oil producers in the Palm Oil Innovation Group, along with ambitious commitments from big palm oil players Golden Agri-Resources and Wilmar, prove that there is a business case for responsible palm oil,” said Bustar Maitar, head of the Greenpeace Indonesian Forest Campaign. “There is no excuse for companies like P&G, as well as Reckitt Benckiser and Colgate-Palmolive to delay immediate action on deforestation.”

Palm oil production is the biggest driver of forest destruction; Indonesia’s forests are disappearing at a rate of more than nine Olympic swimming pools each minute, according to Greenpeace.

Source: Jennifer Elks