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After Years of Pressure, Wilmar International Commits to Ending Deforestation Practices

Image credit: Reuters

Wilmar International, the world's largest palm oil trader, today announced a No Deforestation Policy in response to pressure from Greenpeace, NGOs and consumers around the world.

Bustar Maitar, head of the Indonesia forest campaign at Greenpeace International said: “Wilmar has responded to years of pressure from Greenpeace, other NGOs, and a growing movement of consumers around the world demanding clean palm oil and an end to forest destruction. Wilmar’s commitment to No Deforestation has the potential to transform the controversial palm oil industry.

While Greenpeace says the policy has the potential to be a landmark win for the world’s forests and the people that depend on them for their livelihoods, it now falls to Wilmar to follow through.

“Wilmar’s policy shows that the sector has a massive problem, and while this policy is great news for forests and tigers, its success will be judged by Wilmar’s actions to implement and enforce it,” Maitar added. “Our challenge to Wilmar is this: Will it now immediately stop buying from companies such as the Ganda Group, which is closely linked to Wilmar and is involved in ongoing forest clearance, illegal peatland development and social conflict?”

Over the last seven years, Greenpeace has repeatedly exposed Wilmar’s role in gross acts of forest destruction; sourcing from national parks, destroying prime tiger habitat, sourcing from suppliers linked to orangutan ‘graveyards’ or this year’s forest fire crisis in Sumatra, to name a few.

“For years companies, including Wilmar, have been hiding behind so-called sustainability bodies such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Greenpeace will be closely monitoring how Wilmar will put these words into action, and will welcome Wilmar’s immediate end to all trade with companies involved in deforestation. The gauntlet is thrown to other palm oil traders such as Cargill, Musim Mas and Sime Darby to release similar policies,” Maitar said.

The palm oil sector is the greatest single cause of deforestation in Indonesia. Ministry of Forestry maps show that Indonesia lost some 620,000 hectares of rainforest every year between 2009-2011 (an area greater than the size of Brunei). Palm oil’s expansion into New Guinea and Africa is already threatening forests, and sparking controversy and conflict with local communities.

Greenpeace’s most recent action against Wilmar came in October, when the organization launched a report calling out a host of consumer products companies — including Colgate Palmolive, Mondelez International, Nestlé Oil, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser and a host of other companies — as guilty by association for rainforest destruction in Indonesia, through their association to the palm oil producer, which accounts for more than a third of global trade of palm oil. 

SB Issues in Focus For more examples of how brands are driving #BehaviorChange, check out our Issue in Focus.

Jennifer Elks is Managing Editor at Sustainable Brands. She is a writer, editor and foodie who is passionate about improving food systems, closing loops and creating more livable cities. She loves cooking, wine, cooking with wine, correcting spelling errors in… [Read more about Jennifer Elks]


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