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If you keep up with the latest news about the infuriatingly destructive palm oil industry, you may recall when Greenpeace revealed back in 2013 that Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm oil trader, was guilty of setting fires on peatland, causing widespread deforestation and illegally clearing extensive areas of precious habitat for some of the world’s most vulnerable species. You may also remember that this exposé prompted Wilmar to issue a new policy that promised “no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation.”
At the time, we thought this seemed too good to be true. For the sake of both the human and animal inhabitants living in the fragile rainforest ecosystems where palm oil plants grow best, though, we desperately wanted Wilmar to prove us wrong. But unfortunately, just as expected, they didn’t follow through on their promise in any way, shape or form.
As the latest Greenpeace investigation revealed, Wilmar and its suppliers most definitely have not changed their ways as they pledged to. Quite the opposite, they’ve completely failed to break ties to rainforest destruction and have instead chosen to continue perpetuating it in the name of lining their own pockets.
In the words of Greenpeace USA Palm Oil Campaigner Diana Ruiz, “The trail of palm oil destruction leads all the way from the rainforests of Papua, Indonesia to our shopping carts in the United States. Household brands like Unilever, Nestle, Colgate-Palmolive, and Mondelez have promised to only buy palm oil from companies that are not destroying rainforests or exploiting communities but our researchers discovered that they’re breaking this promise.”
As a matter of fact, Greenpeace researchers assessed deforestation caused by 25 major palm oil producers and found that:
These producers have cleared over 130,000 hectares of rainforest since the end of 2015.
Twelve brands were sourcing from at least 20 of the deforestation-driving palm oil groups: Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills, Hershey, Kellogg’s, Kraft Heinz, L’Oreal, Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Reckitt Benckiser, and Unilever.
Wilmar International was buying from 18 of the palm oil groups.
To make matters worse, the investigation exposed a wealth of evidence suggesting that these 25 palm oil operations are also causing social conflicts, developing without permits, exploiting local citizens, and illegally turning protected areas into oil palm plantations.
The fact that these massive companies are getting away with stealing land from local citizens, destroying critically endangered animals’ habitats, and ultimately driving climate change through mass deforestation is completely unacceptable. Fortunately, if we all work together, we can strip power from the brands that have continually failed to clean up their act.
To learn about how you can help disrupt the environmentally and socially unjust palm oil industry, check out this great article on how to avoid palm oil in your day-to-day life.
All Image Source: Greenpeace