Big brands ‘linked to forest destruction’

Some of the UK's best known brands are linked to the destruction of Indonesia's peat swamp forests, environmental campaigners have claimed.

Greenpeace has accused firms such as Nestlé and Procter & Gamble, the companies behind products such as Kit Kat and Pringles of using palm oil in their products which may have been grown on former peatland.

A report released by the organisation on Thursday, entitled Cooking the Climate, said peatland swamp forests are being drained, dried out and set on fire to make way for palm oil crops, producing 4% of the world’s greenhouse gases.

The campaigners have called on world leaders to negotiate a funding mechanism to protect the world’s remaining tropical forests when they meet in Bali next month to negotiate a post-Kyoto agreement.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “As this investigation shows, a handful of international corporations are ultimately responsible for slashing and burning Indonesia’s peatland forests for products like food, fuel and fabric softener.

“Some of the best known brands in the UK are literally cooking the climate.”

Mr Sauven added that Government plans to increase the use of biofuels through policies such as the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, would make climate change worse as a number of UK companies supplying biofuels already use palm oil.

The companies named in the report denied the allegations and said they used suppliers who were members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

A statement from Nestlé said: “Nestlé does not use crude palm oil but rather buys products derived from palm oil from reputable manufacturers.”

Procter and Gamble said: “We encourage our suppliers to follow sustainable practices and we support various initiatives for the sustainable production and use of palm products.”

UN figures predict that palm oil production is set to double from 20.2m tonnes a year to 40m tonnes by 2030.

Prices of crude palm oil in the rival Malaysian market hit a record high last week due to growing demand.

Kate Martin

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