Nestle makes palm oil pledge

Posted by Josette Dunn on 19th May 2010

Nestlé has announced their commitment to stop buying palm oil from companies owning or managing plantations or farms linked to rainforest destruction.

This would apply to notorious Sinar Mas, a palm oil and paper supplier that Greenpeace has repeatedly caught destroying the rainforest – if it fails to meet Nestlé’s new criteria – and also have implications for Cargill, one of Nestlé’s palm oil suppliers which purchases from Sinar Mas.

Nestlé has entered into a partnership with non-profit organisation The Forest Trust (TFT) to review its palm oil supply chain and audit suppliers for evidence of illegal activity. Nestlé is the first global consumer goods company to become a TFT member.

The partnership starts with palm oil, and Nestlé is studying its supply chains to determine a similarly ambitious target for the pulp and paper it uses. Together with TFT, Nestlé has defined the Responsible Sourcing Guidelines, a set of critical requirements to guide the Nestlé procurement process and to ensure compliance with the Nestlé Supplier Code.

The partnership will focus on assessing suppliers’ performance with respect to these guidelines and on providing technical support to those who currently do not meet the requirements, but who are committed to achieving sustainability.

Greenpeace – who have been targeting Nestlé with the ‘Kit Kat Killer’ campaign against the company’s use of unsustainable palm oil – applauded this commitment by Nestlé, saying “Nestlé’s announcement sends a strong message to the palm oil and paper industry that rainforest destruction is not an acceptable practice in today’s global marketplace”.

Greenpeace credit the public – online and offline – both concerned consumers and social media-savvy activists alike, for pressuringNestlé to make this commitment.

The support from the online community has been clear since day one when Greenpeace’s ‘Have a break?’ video’s removal from YouTube sparked online calls of censorship, several spin-off uploads to YouTube, and drove hundreds of thousands of views on the video within hours of it being re-uploaded to Vimeo.

Facebook was another key online arena for the Kit Kat campaign, where a steady stream of pressure was applied to Nestlé via comments people left on its Facebook Fan page. Many people also changed their profile pictures to images of orang-utans, rainforest, and the campaign Kit Kat ‘killer’ logo.

Nestlé has already set the goal that by 2015, 100% of the palm oil it uses will come from sustainable sources. The Company has made progress toward that goal; 18% of its palm oil purchases in 2010 come from sustainable sources, and this is expected to reach 50% by the end of 2011.

 Responsible Sourcing Guidelines

Together with TFT, Nestlé developed the following requirements for palm oil: The palm oil Nestlé purchases, will:

* Be derived from plantations and farms operating in compliance with local laws and regulations

* Protect high conservation value forest areas

* Support the free prior and informed consent of indigenous and local communities to activities on their customary lands where plantations are developed

* Protect peatlands

* Protect forest areas of ‘high carbon’ value