Colgate-Palmolive Discloses Impact of Supply Chain on Forests and Communities

Rainforest Action Network calls on Ferrero, Procter & Gamble, and Kao to follow suit in urgent response to climate, human rights crises

[San Francisco, CA] – International consumer goods giant Colgate-Palmolive publicly disclosed the forest impact of its palm oil supply chain in the Indonesian province of North Sumatra on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. The release of this “forest footprint” is a direct response to mounting public pressure on major corporations and brands to account for the total area of forests, peatlands as well as the rights of Indigenous and local communities that have been, or could be, impacted by their consumption of forest-risk commodities like palm oil and paper. Colgate-Palmolive is the second multinational corporation to publish its forest footprint. Recently Colgate-Palmolive was singled out as one of the worst offenders in Rainforest Action Network’s comprehensive evaluation of the brands and banks most responsible for deforestation and human rights abuses through their business practices. The company initially received an “F” grade in RAN’s scorecard. With this latest forest footprint disclosure, the company has now moved ahead of several of its peers, including Ferrero, Kao, Mondeléz, Nissin, and Procter & Gamble. 

Maggie Martin, Senior Forest Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network (RAN), issued the following statement:

“Colgate-Palmolive’s publication of its forest footprint is an important acknowledgement of the role these major brands play in our deforestation and climate crises — specifically  the impact their palm oil supply chains in Indonesia can have across the globe. It’s a first step in understanding and taking action to keep forests standing.  This is welcomed progress after decades of insufficient action in addressing the burning and bulldozing of forests to make way for plantations.

“Colgate-Palmolive joined its peer Nestlé in calling for further mapping of customary forest areas, including additional information on usage rights, land rights concerns and existing conflicts. We appreciate this recognition of the important role that communities play in safeguarding their forests and peatlands and we support the call for collective action to secure land rights for Indigenous Peoples and local communities across Indonesia.

“Colgate-Palmolive impacts span from rainforests in Indonesia to those in the Amazon basin and savannah areas in the Cerrado. The personal care giant must go beyond this pilot exercise and follow through with further assessments of its forest footprint across the globe.”

Key findings from its Palm Oil Forest Footprint for North Sumatra, Indonesia, include:

  • 2,232,818 ha of forest is remaining within Colgate-Palmolive’s potential palm oil sourcing area in North Sumatra. Over 877,475 hectares of forests remain at risk of conversion to palm oil plantations. Over 37,843 hectares of forested peatland are also under threat, with over 70% classified as high risk. Over 315,891 hectares of forests remain in areas allocated for conversion to oil palm plantations by the government of Indonesia. 
  • 345,885 hectares of customary areas were identified with 14,934 hectares overlapping with areas allocated to companies for palm oil development. The analysis to identify the Indigenous and local communities that have had their rights violated for palm oil development, or could be impacted if the expansion of palm oil plantations persists into new territories, was limited to government recognized customary lands. 

RAN continues to call on the most influential brands fueling the destruction of rainforests and the violation of human rights to know and disclose their forest footprints, including Ferrero, Kao, Mars, Mondeléz, Nissin Foods, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Unilever. 

“Time is running out,” said Martin. “We are seeing extreme weather, wildfires, droughts — whole communities destroyed. Forests are a critical part of any real solution to our climate crisis. We’ve all seen the recent report on this from the IPCC, signaling a ‘Code Red’ for humanity. It has been clear for decades that the Earth’s climate is changing, and when they say the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed — this is what they mean. These global industrial practices, clearing forests for profit, are a key part of this crisis. We need to keep forests standing — and we need to act now.”