Greenpeace Rates Companies’ Zero Deforestation Commitments

A new basic rating system using five metrics to gauge the strength of companies’ zero deforestation commitments related to palm oil sourcing has been released by Greenpeace. Read more below to find out what these five measures are and how several companies rank.

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Palm oil ratings

Greenpeace has released a basic rating system to gauge the strength of companies’ zero deforestation commitments related to palm oil sourcing. 

The rating system, dubbed the Tiger Challenge, incorporates five metrics: a zero deforestation commitment, supply chain traceability, timelines for achieving palm oil sustainability goals, transparency, and implementation. 

The activist group says it reached out to more than 250 companies that source large amounts of palm oil and received a number of replies, which together with publicly available information, form the basis of the rating. 

Topping the list in terms of companies with “forest-friendly” policies on palm oil are Unilever and Nestlé, both of which have been widely recognized for adopting social and environmental for palm oil sourcing. They are followed by Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s, Ferrero, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, L’Oréal, and Colgate. 

At the bottom of the list are Godrej, Nice, Liby, Kao, and Pepsico. 

Greenpeace says that while many companies are relying on Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’ (RSPO) certification to meet sustainability commitments, it believes that standard falls short in terms of protecting forests and peatlands. 

“If these brands are serious about removing forest destruction from their products, then they must go beyond the RSPO and make a public commitment to implement a No Deforestation Policy,” says Greenpeace, which points to policies adopted by members of the Palm Oil Innovation Group, an alliance of various NGO’s, buyers, and sellers of palm oil. 

Deforestation for palm in Sumatra, May 2014
Deforestation for palm in Sumatra, May 2014. 

Greenpeace adds that if companies are serious about excluding deforestation from their palm oil supply chains, they should establish strict definitions of what constitutes forest. It cited a this week’s commitment from Mondelēz, which owns brands like Oreo and Cadbury, as an example. 

“With Greenpeace and its supporters having already moved consumer giants like P&G to begin cleaning their supply chains, the momentum for clean palm oil is undeniable. But while Mondelez’s new policy is part of this progress and we welcome the commitment to remove suppliers who don’t deliver, it has a major flaw: it does not define what a forest actually is,” said Greenpeace forest campaigner, Annisa Rahmawati, in a statement. 

“Known as the High Carbon Stock approach, this definition is already widely used and being implemented by the likes of GAR, Wilmar, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), and members of the Palm Oil Innovation Group. Mondelēz must demand its suppliers protect all forests and peatland using the HCS approach. Either way, the bulldozers must stop and until they do, Mondelez can’t guarantee its Oreos are deforestation free.” 

Deforestation for palm oil in Malaysia.
Oil palm plantation in Borneo. Photos by Rhett Butler.