May 2, 2018

TFT members linked to palm oil expansion in burned peatlands

( - Despite having made public the names of the palm oil mills from which they source, the supply chains 0f Nestlé, MarsADM and Bunge, all members of The Forest Trust (TFT), unfortunately continue to be linked with peat destruction in Indonesian Borneo.

Even more alarmingly, these linkages have gone completely undetected by the own monitoring systems of these major brands as well as those of TFT and the Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency (BRG).

While there is a lot of evidence backing up this assertion, this news report focuses in particular on one recent piece of evidence highlighting the ongoing destructive nature of these multinational giants’ supply chains.

This pertains to one of their suppliers (PT CBI/PT SSMS Tbk) which since December last year has been developing new palm oil plantations in Indonesia’s targeted peat restoration areas.

In fact, the sites being developed into palm oil plantations are burned peat areas from 2015 which were earmarked for restoration by the peat agency in mid-September two years ago.

The results of a field investigation by the team (Apr 20) confirmed that the the four TFT members, TFT itself and the peat agency all failed to detect the harmful operations of PT BSG, a subsidiary of PT CBI/PT SSMS Tbk, even though these operations have involved substantial peat violations conducted since December 2017.

Below are photos depicting the palm oil expansion in question, reflecting the fact that the monitoring systems of the four TFT members, TFT and the peat agency are not working properly. This is something that should not have been allowed to happen.

The evidence seen in these photos should serve as a lesson learned for these four prominent TFT members, in the sense that moves toward greater transparency in their supply chains require disengaging from suppliers that are still draining peatlands in violation of the prevailing regulations.

PepsiCo also implicated

In addition to the four TFT members mentioned above, another major brand PepsiCo, which is not listed as a TFT member, is also linked to supply chains engaged in new peat development by PT CBI/PT SSMS Tbk, seeing that this palm oil business group is one of PepsiCo's suppliers.

This proves that when it comes to leading brands, there is no difference at all in terms of their supply chains being persistently linked with deforestation and peat destruction, whether they are TFT members or not.

The following photos portray peat areas that were mapped using LiDAR technology funnded by the Norwegian government. These areas have now been converted into new palm oil plantations by PT SSMS Tbk, the aforementioned supplier to the four TFT members and PepsiCo, among other companies.

Situations like this make it unclear what the purpose of the Norwegian government-sponsored LiDAR mapping was. If locations were mapped for peat restoration purposes, why have they now been converted into new palm oil plantations?

Furthermore, this situation exposes the peat agency's incompetence in monitoring LiDAR-mapped areas, considering the agency failed to detect that these new palm oil plantations form part of its own targeted peat restoration map.

According to the peat agency's map, the locations in which new palm oil plantations are being built by the supplier to the four TFT members and PepsiCo are classified as non-concession areas. Despite this, palm oil expansion is currently underway there, without any monitoring being performed by the peat agency whatsoever.

All of the information and evidence outlined in this news report leads to two important conclusions that serve as undeniable lessons learned with regard to the monitoring of palm oil supply chains.

Firstly, the extremely weak supply chain monitoring systems of both the four TFT members and PepsiCo are totally inconsistent with the supposed business transformation they are currently undertaking.

Indeed, not only the evidence presented in this news report, but lots of other evidence indicates that these companies' monitoring of the cleaning up of their supply chains remains very weak, or is willfully weak.

Secondly, it appears whether a member of TFT (in the case of Nestlé, Mars, ADM and Bunge) or not (in the case of PepsiCo), the monitoring systems used have produced exactly the same outcomes - they have utterly failed to detect that the respective supply chains of the companies concerned are still engaged with peat destruction.