Greenpeace: June 19, 2012: Mumbai
Leading Indian companies such as ITC, Britannia, Godrej and Ruchi Soya could be linked to the destruction of the Indonesian rainforest through their use of palm oil, according to investigative research released by Greenpeace today. This destruction is worsening climate change and harming the habitat of endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger and the orang-utan, according to the report ‘Frying the Forest.’
The Indian market is the world’s largest consumer of palm oil, most of it from Indonesia. Palm oil imports into India have grown rapidly since 2007 to 7.2 million tonnes in 2011-12, resulting in a steep import bill and spurring the destruction of Indonesian forest for plantations. The palm oil industry is one of the leading drivers of deforestation and peatland loss in Indonesia according to Indonesia’s National Climate Change Council. Indonesia, which has some of the largest remaining tropical forests on the planet, is ranked 3rd in terms of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, largely due to emissions from deforestation and peatland loss.
“Greenpeace investigations reveal that several Indian firms are using palm oil from the company Duta Palma, which is destroying forest and peatland in Indonesia.” said, Wirendro Sumargo, forest campaigner, Greenpeace Southeastasia.
‘Frying the Forest’ exposes recent forest and peat land clearing by Duta Palma in Riau province, Indonesia. “Duta Palma is a supplier to the Indian market and its oil has been bought by Ruchi Soya, who has in turn supplied companies such as ITC, Parle and Britannia.
At the report launch eminent journalist, G. Chandrashekar, said “India has emerged as the biggest market for palm oil, consuming almost 15 per cent of the global production, most of which comes from Indonesia. This means that Indian firms are well placed to use their market power to pressure palm oil suppliers to ensure that no rainforests and peat lands are being cleared for their plantations.”
Despite the recent commitment by Indonesia’s largest palm oil producer, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), to a ‘no deforestation footprint’ and the Indonesian government’s commitment to strengthen the deforesatation moratorium, the destruction of Indonesia’s forests and peatlands for palm oil continues. The report also comes at a time when many leaders from developed and developing nations are gathering in Rio de Janeiro to discuss and agree their political commitments for sustainable development at the UN Rio+20 Summit.
“Despite our requests, no Indian company has so far made commitments to ensure sure that their palm oil and other supply chain components are not linked to deforestation. This poses a severe risk to their brands. Greenpeace is urging Indian companies using palm oil, such as ITC, Britannia, Godrej and Parle, to show true leadership, and demonstrate that their sustainability commitments are not empty promises,” said Nandikesh Sivalingam, Greenpeace Forest Campaigner.
Greenpeace’s campaign has so far resulted in commitments by global corporations like Nestle, Kraft and Unilever to stop sourcing dirty palm oil linked to deforestation.
Greenpeace is demanding that these Indian companies introduce a time-bound, zero deforestation policy; stop trading with companies that destroy forests and peatlands like Duta Palma and; stop sourcing from third party suppliers who refuse to rule out supply from companies like Duta Palma.
Greenpeace demands that other palm oil producers urgently adopt ‘no deforestation’ policies like GAR and work with Indonesia’s government, local communities and civil society to implement the solutions. Producing palm oil in a truly sustainable way is good for the environment, people and business.