Another day, more orangutan deaths and more Sumatran peat swamp fires torched by criminal palm oil plantation goons supported by corrupt government officials (I’m looking at you “Green Governor” Yusef). But work continues.
In light of this worldwide tragedy, it’s getting really difficult to see all the death, destruction and displacement wrought by palm oil’s demand through the prism of so much “greenwashing” and corporate inaction on the subject.
To wit: I received this response from Colgate-Palmolive to my palm oil inquiry :
Thank you for contacting us with your question. Your interest in our company and our products is greatly appreciated.
We share your concerns about sustainable palm oil, which is already an area of considerable focus for Colgate. We will make sure your concerns about palm oil are known to key people in our organization who make these decisions, and we are thankful that you’ve taken the time to share them with us.
We appreciate your taking the time to contact us. Please accept the enclosed with our compliments.
Senior Consumer Affairs Representative
That’s it? No information on what they’re doing about phasing out palm oil now — or anytime soon. Nothing. Just a “considerable focus”? That concern isn’t keeping the death, destruction and displacement from happening, is it, Colgate-Palmolive?!
That’s not good enough for me. I’m done. Boycott them — and please let them hear from you. They need to know how capitalism gives you, the consumer, the power to turn your purchasing power to more moral companies.
UPDATED: 6/27/2013: I did a little research to see if Colgate-Palmolive’s done anything since the above-post. I found something. Looks like an investor was able to bring a shareholder resolution against them regarding use of palm oil. This looks like good news (with the caveat of we know how toothless the RSPO is:
More and more, consumer packaged goods companies like L’Oreal (PDF) are making commitments to source sustainable palm oil for use in their products. The industry uses palm oil and its derivatives – from the fruit of the oil palm tree — in food, lotions, soaps, shampoo and other items. Although there are sustainability advantages to using oil palm trees, which produce a great deal of oil with less land, water, and pesticides than many other crops, there are also significant problems with the way oil palm trees are typically grown in some countries. Palm oil plantations may be responsible for significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, displacement of local and Indigenous Peoples, and decimation of endangered species, such as the orangutan. The urgency of multi-stakeholder efforts to improve palm oil production were just recently brought home, as scientists with the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program said in late March that hundreds of the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan had been killed in fires deliberately set by palm oil companies.
In 2011, Calvert was the lead filer in a shareholder resolution co-filed with six other investors, asking the Colgate-Palmolive Company (“Colgate”) to adopt and implement a comprehensive palm oil sourcing policy including a target date for sourcing 100% certified sustainable palm oil. We also asked the company to report to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an international certification scheme for sustainable palm oil production. Following a constructive dialogue with Colgate, including a review of its comprehensive strategy regarding palm oil and palm kernel oil, Calvert and its co-sponsors withdrew their proposal. By 2015, Colgate’s goal is to purchase only certified sustainable palm oil and derivatives from Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil member companies.
We applaud Colgate for addressing this important issue in its supply chain and by reporting to the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Colgate’s palm oil policy may be found in the latest Sustainability Report