Greenpeace’s Latest Big Win: Getting IKEA to Commit to Sustainable Palm Oil

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IKEA is the latest company to adopt a new sustainable policy for sourcing palm oil, marking one more big victory this year for Greenpeace.

“IKEA’s decision to clean up its supply chain for products containing palm oil is good news,” stated Joao Talocchi, Greenpeace USA Palm Oil Campaigner.

“Commitments over the past year from companies like Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and General Mills have brought the palm oil industry to a tipping point. We’re now at the stage where it’s unacceptable for companies not to address rainforest destruction with their suppliers.”[more]

As palm oil production continues and demand grows, the world’s most vulnerable tropical habitats are being systemically destroyed. The hidden human costs of the palm oil boom continue to be widespread, with millions of workers—thousands of them children—facing daily abuses. 

In IKEA’s case, palm oil is mainly found as a component in its candles and in some food products and snacks, and is also occasionally used to process rattan in its wicker furniture.[more]

While IKEA maintains that, “when grown responsibly, palm oil has the potential to be a sustainable raw material,” and notes that palm oil, “is one of the most productive vegetable oils and can have a positive impact on livelihoods, particularly of smallholders,” the world’s biggest furniture retailer also acknowledges that, “if grown irresponsibly, palm oil has a destructive impact on the environment, contributing to deforestation and negatively affecting the lives of workers and local communities.”

IKEA has pledged to remove all palm oil from rainforest and peatland from its production chain by 2017. Additionally, all products will be traceable from the store shelf to the plantation, and indigenous peoples’ and workers’ rights will be respected.

Following the moves of other major companies and consistent pressure from Greenpeace, P&G partnered with the Malaysia Institute for Supply Chain Innovation to help small farmers improve their palm oil and palm kernel oil production as part of its zero deforestation goals set back in April.

“We already work with larger suppliers to trace the origin of our supply chain, but small farmers—in places like Malaysia and Indonesia—account for 35 to 45 percent of palm oil production,” said Len Sauers, VP P&G Sustainability.

IKEA’s commitment exceeds targets set by the palm oil industry’s largest certification system, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), marking a major win for global sustainability.

It also marks a major win for Greenpeace, which also saw Burberry commit to going toxin-free earlier this year and LEGO part ways with Shell following its relentless lobbying and “Everything is Not Awesome” campaign.

IKEA, meanwhile, made its biggest renewable energy investment to date by buying a second wind farm, in Texas, this week.

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[Images via IKEA, Greenpeace]

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