Walmart, KFC, Burger King Paper Purchases Destroying Indonesia's Rainforests

A new report from Greenpeace points the finger at the international companies responsible for Indonesian deforestation, and the international brands aiding and abetting them.

Greenpeace is again pointing a finger the international companies responsible for Indonesian deforestation, and the international brands aiding and abetting them through purchasing their products. This time it's the Sinar Mas group and their subsidiary Asian Pulp & Paper clearing forest and Walmart, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, KFC, and other well-known consumer names that are helping them, albeit one step removed.

Critical Endangered Species Habitat & Carbon-Storing Rainforest Cleared Illegally
The new blame and shame report How Sinar Mas is Pulping the Planet [PDF] documents how Asian Pulp &Paper is clearing forest in the Bukit Tigapuluh Forest Landscape and in the Kerumantan peat forest, both on the island of Sumatra.

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Bukit Tigapuluh is one of the last areas where critically endangered Sumatran tigers, and the slightly less endangered Orangutan, live. Kerumutan's peat forests are a major repository of stored carbon in the soil; clearing the forest not only removes the above ground carbon sink in the form of trees and forest floor biomass, but also releases all that stored carbon as the peat dries out--it's also illegal under Indonesian law.

Rolf Skar from Greenpeace: "Kerumutan and Bukit Tigapuluh are just two of many endangered forests being decimated by Sinar Mas for paper and palm oil expansion. Indonesian president Yudyohono's new commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation will be undermined unless he extends the moratorium on new deforestation licenses to cover all forest and peatlands that are currently slated for destruction by Sinar Mas and other companies."

Indonesia the World's Third Largest Carbon Emitter, Thanks to Deforestation
Not to be overly pedantic, but if Indonesia's forest clearing was just decimation (removal of a tenth) things wouldn't be so bad. As it stands, because of its rampant and rapid deforestation, Indonesia has become the world's third-largest carbon emitter--if you include emissions from deforestation, which isn't always done. In the process, habitat for several endangered species, like the aforementioned tigers and orangutan but also elephants and other species, becomes further and further reduced. A full 25% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation can be traced to Indonesia.

Why Focus on Walmart, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King & KFC?
Greenpeace points out that several large corporations have stopped doing business with Sinar Mas, when they were presented with the evidence. Kraft, Kimberly-Clark, Nestle, Unilever, Staples, Office Depot and HSBC have all done so--or will do so if Sinar Mas doesn't make its practices more ecologically sustainable.

But so far Walmart, Dunkin Donuts & KFC have not done so. Other brands implicated in the report include French supermarket chains Carrefour (in Indonesia and China) and Auchan (in China), British supermarket chain Tesco (in China), British retailer WH Smith (in the UK), Hewlett Packard (in Brazil), and more.

Greenpeace's Skar again: "It's for companies like Burger King, Dunkin Donuts and Kentucky Fried Chicken to catch up. We're calling on companies in this report to stop doing business with Sinar Mas immediately. In addition, we urge them to publicly support the immediate production of Indonesia's peatlands and back a moratorium on rainforest destruction."

Additional steps the report calls for include:
Introduction of a "zero-deforestation policy that includes a set of requirements which suppliers must meet for all commodities linked to deforestation and peatland destruction.

Introduction of a paper procurement policy "which sets ambitious targets to use as much post-consumer recycled paper as possible, and ensures that any virgin fiber is certified to the standards of Forest Stewardship Council or an equivalent system."

Matthew McDermott writes about alternative energy for TreeHugger.