December 2009: Unilever takes stance against deforestation
Unilever today 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 that none of their plantations are contributing to the destruction of high conservation value forests and expanding onto peat lands.
For the past 18 months Unilever, a large user of palm oil, has been scrutinising the activities of its suppliers to ensure that they meet the highest possible sustainability standards.
Early in 2009 Unilever conducted an independent audit of its major suppliers. This revealed several areas of concern. These are being addressed on an individual basis.
However, new evidence has come to light in a report due to be published by Greenpeace this week. The report makes serious allegations against Sinar Mas’s environmental practices. As a result Unilever has decided to take immediate action.
Marc Engel, Chief Procurement Officer, said: “The Greenpeace claims are of a nature that we can’t ignore. 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.”
“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.”
Unilever is an active member of the RSPO. It is an organisation that Unilever helped found and one to which it remains wholeheartedly committed.