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May 30, 2018

Major Brands Connected to Ongoing Deforestation in Critical Orangutan Habitat for Palm Oil

A new field investigation connects palm oil sourced by snack food giant PepsiCo, others, to destruction of ‘Orangutan Capital of the World’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, Emma@ran.org, +1 425.281.1989

SAN FRANCISCO – A new report released today by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) confirms, for the first time, that major brands PepsiCo, Unilever, Nestlé, Mars, Mondelēz and General Mills have been sourcing palm oil from the critical Tripa peatland in the Leuser Ecosystem, Sumatra, Indonesia, where ongoing deforestation continues for new palm oil development.

Tripa, once called “the orangutan capital of the world”, was home to some of the densest populations of the last Sumatran orangutans in the wild. The palm oil company in question –– PT Surya Panen Subur II (PT SPS II) –– has been a known bad actor since 2012 and is one of the few palm oil companies that has been sued and found guilty for illegal peat forest clearance. New palm oil mill lists released by PepsiCo and other major brands confirm the sourcing of palm oil from a PT SPS II mill in the Tripa peatland area.

"PT SPS II has been a known bad actor for years,” said Gemma Tillack, Policy Director for Rainforest Action Network (RAN). “It's absurd that major brands like PepsiCo have continued to source from such a destructive palm oil company, even as these brands make sustainability commitments. If PepsiCo and others aren't able to resolve this case, there is little faith that they will truly move toward sourcing responsibly produced palm oil. And we have literally watched forests fall and orangutans brought to the brink of extinction while these companies drag their feet and fail to enforce a moratorium on more forest clearance for palm oil."

The refusal to end the purchasing of palm oil from PT SPS II is even more controversial considering that the destruction of Tripa’s peatlands has continued since 2012, both by PT SPS II and other parties that have established palm oil plantations illegally within the PT SPS II concession. Since June 2016, when a government circular letter demanded that palm oil companies operating in the Leuser Ecosystem abide by the moratorium and halt forest clearance inside concessions under their control, a total of 368 hectares of forest have been destroyed roughly the size of 683 football fields. Field investigations and satellite evidence in this latest report show backhoes have been used to clear peat forests as recently as March 2018. PT SPS II has destroyed thousand of acres of the Tripa peatland, and failed to resolve conflicts with communities whose land was taken from them during a time marked by great disregard of the rights of Indigenous and local communities.

“PepsiCo, Unilever, Nestlé, Mars, Mondelez and General Mills, and their suppliers GAR and Wilmar, must suspend sourcing from PT SPS II, until the company establishes a transparent, credible and independent conflict resolution process. PT SPS II must also advance efforts between communities, governments and itself to protect and restore Tripa’s peat forests, while securing alternative livelihood pathways to palm oil development for local communities,” concluded Tillack.  

High quality images of the Tripa peatland, Sumatran orangutans and recent forest clearance are available on request.

 

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