Indonesia: Palm oil & paper companies under renewed scrutiny for breaking anti-logging commitment following forest fire

Author: Catherine Lai, Asia Times, Published on: 5 October 2019

"Burning issue: Indonesia fires put palm oil under scrutiny", 30 September 2019

A brutal Indonesian forest fire season that left Southeast Asia choking in smog has renewed scrutiny of major palm oil and paper companies, with activists accusing them of breaking promises to halt logging.

The monster blazes sent a pall of acrid smoke over the region for weeks, closing schools and airports and causing a spike in respiratory ailments.

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Singapore-listed Wilmar International, the world’s biggest palm oil trader, committed in 2013 to a no-deforestation policy and says it has stopped sourcing from 17 suppliers that did not comply with its rules.

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Some of the world’s largest brands – including Nestle and Unilever – pledged in 2010 to reach net zero deforestation within a decade through “responsible sourcing” of cattle, palm oil, soya and other commodities.

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While larger companies have vowed not to source from smaller ones that break strict environmental rules, critics say they are not monitoring their supply chains carefully.

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And last year the NGO accused palm-oil giant Wilmar, as well as consumer brands including Colgate-Palmolive, Hershey, Nestle and Unilever, of continuing to buy from groups that were destroying the rainforest.

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Wilmar insists it sticks to its commitments and says it continues to work towards a supply chain free from deforestation from 2020.

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Related companies: Colgate-Palmolive Hershey Mondelēz International Nestlé Unilever Wilmar International