Indonesia — Greenpeace has launched a new video entitled “Onslaught(er)” in which they allege that Unilever, the makers of Dove products, are buying palm oil from suppliers that are destroying Indonesia’s rain forests.
The 60 second video has gone “viral” and has been played over 75,000 times since it’s posting to youtube.com two days ago.
The video features a young Indonesian girl, Azizah, and claims that at the rate Unilever is going 98% of the rain forests where the young girl lives will be destroyed by the time she reaches 25 years of age.
Why is Greenpeace zeroing in on Dove and Unilever? For starters, Unilever is reportedly one of the largest users of palm oil in the world, channeling up to one in every 5 gallons produced from Indonesia into some of the many well-known brands it owns. This one fact means Unilever has a huge influence on the way palm oil is made.
Unilever is also the chair of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The RSPO is a group of retailers, manufacturers and suppliers whose aim is create standards for the production of sustainable palm oil. The RSPO has developed a certification system, which some equate to nothing more that a scheme, in which oil must be certified. As of yet not a drop of certified oil is available, six years after the certification system was set up. Even when certified palm oil becomes available later this year, there is nothing to prevent certified palm oil being blended with non-certified palm oil. This will make it impossible for RSPO members to guarantee that their palm oil does not come from recently deforested areas.
Greenpeace’s latest report, “How Unilever’s Palm Oil Suppliers Are Burning Up Borneo”, details how some of Unilever’s key palm oil suppliers, namely Sinar Mas, Wilmar, Sime Darby and IOI are devastating forest and peat land areas in Central Kalimantan. According to Greenpeace, not only are millions of people who live in or rely on the forests for their survival being put at risk, but as these areas are destroyed many endangered species are at even greater risk of extinction, including Sumatran tigers, Javan rhinoceroses and orangutans.
This is not great going for a company that paints itself asgreen and responsible. Unilever’s website makes a great deal of effort to portray itself as both environmentally and socially responsible, but when it comes to palm oil the reality is, according to Greenpeace, very different.