Greenpeace on Thursday ranked the top 14 consumer goods companies by how well they are cutting back on cutting down forests in Indonesia.
Turns out, the results are not so good. Three companies -- Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson and PepsiCo -- outright failed, thanks to their opaque supply chains. That's a huge problem. Palm oil production is destroys the planet, drives endangered species to extinction and forces indigenous peoples from their land.
Annisa Rahmawati of Greenpeace Indonesia summed it up so nicely in the environmental nonprofit's press release. Emphasis mine:
“PepsiCo, Colgate-Palmolive and Johnson & Johnson are really letting their customers down. People should be able to brush their teeth or eat a snack without pushing orangutans even closer to extinction. These companies must have a fully transparent supply chain and ensure they only buy palm oil from suppliers that are protecting our rainforests.”
For more on palm oil, here's some context from a piece I wrote back in August 2014 after Burger King bought Tim Hortons:
Palm oil is pressed from red palm fruits. Though native to west Africa, 90 percent of the trees that produce the oil are now grown on huge plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia, according to the Rainforest Action Network. Palm oil sales jumped 485 percent in the U.S. alone in the last decade, and the boom has accelerated the destruction of rainforests in these two nations.
The Indonesian government plans to convert 44 million acres of rainforest -- a land area the size of Missouri -- into palm oil plantations by 2020, according to a reportby the Rainforest Action Network. By 2022, the U.N. Environment Programestimates that 98 percent of forests in the country could be destroyed.
The industry's growth has destroyed the habitats of endangered orangutans, rare Sumatran rhinos and Sumatran elephants. (Fewer than 2,800 of the elephants still exist.) Indigenous peoples have also been forced, sometimes violently, off their lands.