Procter & Gamble must stop the destruction of forests around the world

Environmental groups urge P&G shareholders to stop harming people and the planet through its  palm and pulp supply chains.

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Sammy Herdman
Save The Boreal Forest Campaign, Associate

Author: Sammy Herdman

Save The Boreal Forest Campaign, Associate

Started on staff: 2021
B.A., cum laude, Occidental College

Sammy runs the Save The Boreal Forest campaign for Environment America, calling on American corporations to stop degrading forests that are critical for the climate, biodiversity and Indigenous communities. Sammy grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, but now lives in Denver. She enjoys snowboarding, camping and reading.

More than 100 environmental groups sent a letter Thursday calling on the shareholders of Procter & Gamble (P&G) to minimize the company’s impacts on the Canadian boreal forest and the tropical rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia. The letter was delivered nearly a year after a majority of shareholders voted in favor of a Green Century Capital Management resolution, which called on Procter & Gamble to increase its efforts to mitigate deforestation and forest degradation in its supply chains. 

Since then, the company has failed to make adequate commitments for how it will reduce it’s negative impact on intact forests. Instead, P&G has increased the volume of pulp it purchases from Canada by more than 15% in the last year. 

Considering the growing availability of sustainable materials like recycled paper and bamboo, P&G’s use of virgin forest fiber in Charmin, Bounty and Puffs products puts unnecessary pressure on the Canadian boreal forest. P&G has been widely criticized for the company’s use of palm oil and palm kernel oil suppliers that fuel the deforestation of tropical rainforests. In both cases, the extraction of resources releases carbon stored in forest and peatland ecosystems into the atmosphere. Because these forests absorb and store large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, the destruction of these wild spaces also means the loss of one of the world’s greatest buffers against climate change.

In addition to helping fight climate change, the trees of both the Canadian boreal and the tropical rainforests provide critical habitat for threatened species, such as Canada’s boreal caribou and Indonesia’s orangutans. Furthermore, Indigenous communities have spoken out against the impacts P&G’s suppliers are having on their lands. And two of their palm oil suppliers in Malaysia have import bans in the United States for ongoing human rights violations.

In their letter, environmental organizations urged Procter & Gamble’s shareholders to minimize the company's forest degradation. This can be done by first opposing the re-election of Angela Braly to P&G’s board of directors. Braly has chaired P&G’s Governance & Public Responsibility Committee for five years and environmental groups assert that she has failed to effectively respond to the shareholder proposal that passed last year.

Second, the environmental organizations asked P&G to commit to:

  1. Increasing the amount of forest-free fibers in their tissue products. The company must hit a 50% (or more) threshold of using recycled and sustainable forest-free alternative fibers by 2025.

  2. Reducing emissions released by their supply chains by 50% by 2030. This needs to include a plan to analyze, disclose and cut emissions from land use changes (including forest sourcing) by 50% by 2025.

  3. Developing and enforcing a non-compliance protocol with irresponsible suppliers and a strengthened grievance mechanism. This approach must provide a way for anyone to file complaints over violations of P&G’s policies in the company’s supply chain.

  4. Requiring, monitoring and verifying if suppliers are respecting the right of Indigenous and traditional communities.The company needs to seek and receive locals’ free, prior and informed consent.

  5. Engaging directly with impacted communities to resolve grievances.

As one of the largest tissue producers and palm oil users in the U.S., P&G is uniquely positioned to set a higher corporate responsibility standard amidst our current climate crisis. Now—more than ever—we must tackle climate change. Environmental organizations and elected officials are working to promote clean, renewable energy and mitigate global warming. When corporations eliminate our natural climate solutions, it is not only counterproductive, but it’s also reprehensible. Hopefully, P&G will rise to the challenge and begin investing in our future instead of flushing it.

Sammy Herdman
Save The Boreal Forest Campaign, Associate

Author: Sammy Herdman

Save The Boreal Forest Campaign, Associate

Started on staff: 2021
B.A., cum laude, Occidental College

Sammy runs the Save The Boreal Forest campaign for Environment America, calling on American corporations to stop degrading forests that are critical for the climate, biodiversity and Indigenous communities. Sammy grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, but now lives in Denver. She enjoys snowboarding, camping and reading.