The Sinar Mas Palm Oil saga continues

Several months ago Greenpeace started Kit Kat Nestle campaign to protest against the use of palm oil from companies that are trashing Indonesian rainforests, threatening the livelihoods of local people and pushing orang-utans towards extinction. Here is my post about the effect of the campaign: The Greenpeace Nestle Kit Kat campaign

In the end Greenpeace prevailed and now Nestle has stopped using palm oil products that come from rainforest destruction.

One of the major suppliers of Nestle was Sinar Mas. This company has now again come under immense pressure as Greenpeace reports this week:

Title: Sinar Mas caught with pants on fire, fibbing to stock markets

“Shooting yourself in the foot. Getting egg all over your face. These and many more idioms apply to the Sinar Mas group which, following the release of its audit last week, has seen its executives “misreporting” the audit’s findings.
Despite what company bigwigs have been saying, the audit doesn’t clear Sinar Mas of operating irresponsibly or outside Indonesian law, leading to the embarrassing retraction of several claims made publicly which the audit doesn’t in fact support. Worse, Sinar Mas has been telling these fibs not just to journalists, but to its shareholders, the Indonesian government and the stock exchange.”

Read the complete article here: Greenpeace on Sinar Mas Audits

My opinion

Did anyone really believe that Sinar Mas was going to back down and comply with the new rules it has set themselves as a result of outside pressure? The palm oil industry is a tough competitive industry and Sinar Mas is one of the market leaders. And it wants to stay one of the market leaders.

I believe there is only one answer to this reoccurring corporate irresponsibility. Sinar Mas needs to be closed down in my view and start anew in some shape or form that has different business principles and leadership at its core and a much stronger continuous stakeholder input. I am sure the people that where exploiting the rules and acting irresponsible are still working there. Change on this scale does not happen that quickly. So what made us think they would not go back to their old ways?

Over the years my opinion on how to tackle these difficult examples has changed. Cooperation and assistance in order to get results is one thing and must always be the first step but right-out criminal behavior does not deserve any kind of sympathy. Drastic action needs to be taken to put things at Sinar Mas and I am fully supporting the action of Greenpeace in this case.

Do you? What is your view on this?

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  1. Sustainability is often hardest at the ingredient level. Maybe half the population has heard of palm oil, and fewer still know how devistating this industry has become. If the protest is loud enough, corporations will often listen and react, but unless laws are put in place – and enforced to the full extent – producers will continue to trash the environment if there's profit in it.

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