Nestle announced on May 17 it would partner with The Forest Trust (TFT) to create “responsible supply chains” starting with palm oil. Nestle’s decision to partner with TFT came about as a result of a Greenpeace campaign that started in March. Within hours of a campaign launch and publishing of a report titled, Caught Red-Handed, according to a Greenpeace press release, Nestle agreed to cancel business contracts with the Sinar Mas group, a palm oil and paper conglomerate that Greenpeace caught destroying Paradise rainforests in Indonesia. Sinar Mas is the largest producer of palm oil and pulp and paper in Indonesia, and has 406,000 hectares of palm oil plantations, according to the report.
Greenpeace was not satisfied with Nestle’s decision to cancel contracts with Sinar Mas, so it kept pressuring Nestle. Greenpeace’s campaign included releasing a video, Have a Break, having activists “friending” Nestle’s Facebook page (which overwhelmed Nestle’s page), and protesting outside Nestle’s annual shareholder meeting last month. Greenpeace worked for years to get other companies to stop buying from Sinar Mas, and managed to pressure Unilever and Kraft to stop.
With TFT, Nestle created the Responsible Sourcing Guidelines:
- Communicate these guidelines strongly and clearly to the global commodity industry, particularly the palm oil and pulp and paper sectors
- Continue to focus its procurement to already certified suppliers
- Conduct and ensure field audits of its existing suppliers to determine their performance against the guidelines
- Exclude all suppliers found to be in breach of the guidelines
- Implement technical assistance programs to support those willing to proceed to sustainability
- Identify new suppliers who comply or could comply with technical assistance comply with the guidelines
- Provide regular and transparent feedback on its findings and its performance against these guidelines
In a statement, Nestle said the palm oil it purchases will come from plantations and farms that comply with local laws and regulations. Nestle also said it will do the following:
- 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 forests areas of high carbon value
Nestle is the one of the largest food and drink companies in the world, according to the Greenpeace report, and its decision to commit to responsible sourcing of palm oil will have an impact on its suppliers. “Nestlé’s new policy sends a very clear message to companies that are destroying forests and peatlands for new plantations,” said Andy Tait, Senior Campaign Advisor for Greenpeace. “If you don’t stop deforestation and protect peatlands, your days of supplying to global brands such as Nestle are over. This is a very positive step forward by Nestle, but delivery is critical, and we will be monitoring progress carefully.”