(Reuters) – Greenpeace leveled on Tuesday new accusations of rainforest destruction against Indonesian agribusiness giant Sinar Mas and urged retailers Carrefour and Walmart to stop buying their products.
Several top palm oil buyers, including Unilever and Nestle, have said they will stop buying from Sinar Mas after earlier Greenpeace accusations that Sinar Mas units such as pulp and paper firm APP and palm oil producer PT Smart Tbk cleared virgin rainforests and peatlands.
Preservations of rainforests and peatlands, which trap huge amounts of greenhouse gases, is seen as key to preventing dangerous climate change.
Another major Sinar Mas customer, Cargill Inc has also said it will stop buying from the Indonesian firm if allegations of rainforest logging are proven.
In a report titled ‘How Sinar Mas is Pulping the Planet’, released on Tuesday, Greenpeace said it had confidential APP documents suggesting that the firm did not intend to fulfill a promise to source its wood from plantations alone after 2009.
“Pulping the Planet reveals from analysis of Indonesian government and confidential Sinar Mas maps and data, as well as on-the-ground investigations, that APP continues to acquire and destroy rainforest and peatland to feed its two pulp mills in Sumatra,” the environmental group said in the report, referring to once forest-clad western Indonesian island.
“While the overall capacity of its two pulp mills in Sumatra was 2.6 million (metric) tons per year in 2006, the Sinar Mas document indicates that APP was proposing to raise that to 17.5 million (metric) tons per year, a sevenfold increase in APP’s pulp capacity in Indonesia.”
APP’s sustainability spokeswoman, Aida Greenbury, told Reuters she was not aware of any plans to increase production to that level.
“To raise it to 17 million (metric) tons would require roughly 8 million hectares of area and that’s ridiculous,” she said by telephone. “I would like to see this confidential document and make sure it is not a fabrication.”
Greenpeace said Sinar Mas, which also owns Singapore’s Golden Agri-Resources, was aiming to expand into forests that shelter endangered Sumatran tigers, as well as into deep, carbon-rich peatlands.
Sinar Mas’ palm oil unit, Pt Smart Tbk, issued a statement saying it was “committed not to plant oil palm trees on peatland, primary forests nor convert land with high conservation value.”
Smart’s president director, Daud Dharsono, urged its customers to await the results of an investigation into earlier Greenpeace accusations, by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) — an industry body of planters, consumers and green groups — which are expected in July.
“We have been in touch with all our customers on our sustainability practices and request that they continue to seek clarity directly with us should they have any concerns,” he said.
Greenpeace called on supermarket chains Tesco, Walmart and Carrefour to stop buying APP paper products and urged food firms Campbell Soup Company, Dunkin’ Donuts and Pizza Hut, as well as cosmetics firm Shiseido, to stop buying Sinar Mas palm oil.
(Editing by Robert Birsel)