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NGO puts pressure on PepsiCo following ‘weak’ palm oil policy announcement

The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has described PepsiCo’s latest palm oil policy as a “dodge and cover”, and claimed it failed to “clean up” its supply chain.

The global snack food company has faced international pressure over its continued use of palm oil which is connected to rainforest destruction, human rights abuses and carbon pollution.

PepsiCo has been the target of a growing campaign coalition of environmental and labour rights organisations calling on the firm to reform the practices of its business partners and commit to sourcing responsible palm oil.

In an announcement on 21 June 2018, PepsiCo said it aimed to source 100% Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) physically certified sustainable palm oil by 2020. Currently, PepsiCo has increased palm oil traceability to the mill level to 94%.

The company also set a conversion cut-off date for forest and peatlands, making it clear that PepsiCo will not buy any palm oil sourced from land cleared since the end of 2015.

Of the policy update, Rob Meyers, sustainability director and PepsiCo, said: “Our latest Progress Report and expanded policy reinforce our commitment to transparency regarding palm oil as we make progress towards our 2020 goals. They reinforce PepsiCo’s multi-year objective of playing our part, alongside our peers, partners and producers, in the long-term transformation of the palm oil industry.”

However, RAN has said that the company needs to “close the loophole” which allows it to still do business with its partner Indofood, the third largest private palm oil company in Indonesia.

RAN’s palm oil campaign director Robin Averbeck issued a statement in response to PepsiCo’s policy announcement, which said: “At the end of the day it still allows PepsiCo to remain in business partnership with companies actively abusing workers’ rights and destroying tropical rainforests and peatlands.

“Five years of investigative reports and massive international consumer outcry has successfully pressured PepsiCo to move to this point, but the company is fully aware of where its problems lie and what it needs to do to fix them.”

It continued: “We are not asking for the impossible, PepsiCo has the ability and responsibility to meet the demands of global consumers to protect workers rights, eliminate deforestation and peatland destruction.

“It needs to set a binding deadline for achieving its new commitment to ‘No Deforestation, No Peatland and No Exploitation’, and it needs to enact independent, third party verification of progress by its suppliers and business partners across all their operations.”

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