When it comes to rainforest deforestation, it looks like Nike is adopting a new slogan: “Just Don’t Do It.” The company has recently adopted a policy that will require its leather suppliers to document that they did not source cattle raised in the Amazon rainforest (and its related ecosystem).
Although the company claims it already does not source from rainforests, it adopted the policy nonetheless in response to a Greenpeace report that called out several companies with supply chains linked to rainforest deforestation. By enforcing the new policy, Nike expects to ascertain its leather sources, thereby refuting, with greater sureness, future claims against the company.
The Greenpeace report, called “Slaughtering the Amazon“, highlights the fact that many shoe companies with complex supply chains utilize rainforest resources somewhere down the line. It emphasizes that Brazil’s cattle industry causes approximately 80 percent of Amazon deforestation. The cattle industry sells to suppliers including Bertin, a hyde-processer that sells to Nike and other shoe companies. Of Nike’s leather suppliers, three source hydes from Brazil; this accounts for approximately 12 percent of the leather used in the company’s shoes.
Per the new policy, Nike will give Brazilian leather suppliers until July 1, 2010 to create a system for tracing their leather to non-Amazon locations. The system must be ongoing and transparent. If Nike is unable to obtain such systems from enough suppliers, Nike may increase the Amazon Basin area from which it will not source. The policy will also require suppliers to join the Leather Working Group by December this year. The Group will assist Nike in developing an industry standard for hyde tracking.