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Environment

Palm oil: Unilever cuts purchases from supplier criticized by Greenpeace

Unilever recently announced that it has decided to suspend all future purchases of palm oil from the Indonesian company PT Smart, part of the Sinar Mas group, until such time as they can provide verifiable proof of sustainable practices.

This decision follows the publication by Greenpeace of a report making serious allegations against Sinar Mas’s environmental practices.

According to Greenpeace, PT Smart, a subsidiary of Sinar Mas, is involved in “aggressive plantations expansion” of palm oil trees to the detriment of the rainforest and orang-utans habitat.

Unilever said it has been scrutinising the activities of its suppliers for the past 18 months “to ensure that they meet the highest possible sustainability standards”.

However, Unilever considers that Greenpeace brings new elements that cannot be ignored. “Unilever is committed to sustainable sourcing. Therefore, we have notified PT SMART that we have no choice but to suspend our future purchasing of palm oil,” said Marc Engel, Unilever’s Chief Procurement Officer, in a release.

If PT SMART are able to come forward with concrete proof that they are not involved in unacceptable environmental practices then we would certainly re-consider our position,” Marc Engel explained.

In May 2008, Unilever promised that all of the palm oil used by the company would be sustainably sourced by 2015.

Oil palm tree plantations reduce the orang-outan habitat.  Unilever, is probably the largest palm oil corporate consumer in the world.

Oil palm tree plantations reduce the orang-outan habitat. Unilever, is probably the largest palm oil corporate consumer in the world.

Vincent Gallon

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