Despite the commitments of major brands to decouple palm oil production from the destruction of primeval forests, deforestation continues and the Greenpeace NGO denounces after two years of research.
The Franco-Italian controversy had taken the headlines in 2015: "We have to stop eating Nutella because it is palm oil"Ségolène Royal on prime time had pleaded on a television. The diplomatic earthquake that followed forced the French Environment Minister to withdraw its comments: "A thousand apologies for the controversy." Two years later, the problem of being uncomfortable remains more acute than ever: despite the general mobilization against deforestation announced at the beginning of the decade, the industry continues to do great damage, condemns the international organization for the defense of the environment Greenpeace. By continuing the destruction of primeval forests, the production ofpalm oil feeds a global double crisis: the greenhouse effect and the loss of biodiversity. Deforestation is held responsible for 12% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, and NASA estimates that at the current rate of deforestation tropical forests have disappeared in a century.
"We have to stop eating Nutella because it is palm oil."
Greenpeace points out to several large companies their responsibility. "The palm oil suppliers of the biggest brands, including Unilever, Nestle, Colgate-Palmolive and Mondelez (Côte d & # 39; Or …), destroyed a tropical forest area that was almost twice as large as Singapore in the last three years "says the NGO. His report ("Final Countdown") documents deforestation by 25 producers, mostly related to the world's largest reseller Wilmar International, responsible for the destruction of more than 130,000 hectares of forests and peatlands since 2015.
While the vast majority of palm oil is used by companies committed to the protection of the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia, "the link with deforestation is not the exception, it is still the rule"says Filip Verbelen, forest protection specialist at Greenpeace Belgium. In 2010, in the context of the climate conference of Cancun, the sector has committed itself to reducing the dependence on deforestation by 2020. "They have only 500 days left, and our research has shown that they have not really started to keep that promise."Verbelen continues. Which contributes to the list of multinationals that are still not looking for a few Belgian names, as the largest consumer of palm oil in the country, Vandemoortele (who did not respond to our request for reaction) or even signs such as Delhaize, Colruyt , Aldi, Lidl and Carrefour, who use this oil for the products of their brand.
"Palm oil suppliers of the biggest brands have destroyed a tropical forest area almost twice as large as Singapore in the last three years."
Cards from Wilmar
Although most brands and large players in the sector have adopted charters against deforestation, these companies are largely unable to implement them, says Greenpeace. In most cases they fail to identify producer groups in their supply chains and monitor them in their activities. "Brands and resellers do not have this – and do not require their suppliers – concession cards that allow the producer groups that supply them to comply with their NDPE policies (no deforestation, no peat soils, no exploitation (social)). Without this information, they can not guarantee that they will not involve palm oil from forest shredders. & # 39;says the NGO.
"They can not guarantee that they do not involve palm oil from forest shredders."
The report also focuses on consultancies who support companies in implementing their anti-deforestation policy and whose audits are very superficial, according to Filip Verbelen: "When we run case studies, we usually notice that the label is unreliable."
In contrast to Ségolène Royal, the NGO does not plead for a boycott of palm oil and does not directly address the consumer: it increases the pressure on brands in the hope of achieving its primary goal: the giant Wilmar.