Nestlé Suspended From Sustainable Palm Oil Group Over Poor 'Conduct'
The chocolate-maker engaged in practices that leave a bad taste in some environmentalists' mouths.
The company famous for breakin’ off a piece of its Kit Kat bars has been asked to take a break from a sustainable palm oil group — for allegedly breaking the rules.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) suspended Nestlé, the world's largest food and beverage company, after "breaches of the RSPO statutes and code of conduct for members," ABC News reported.
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Nestlé, which uses palm oil in various chocolate products like Kit Kats, committed to using "segregated, certified-sustainable palm oil in its Australian chocolate factory" in 2014, according to ABC News. The pledge came after a Greenpeace campaign sparked worldwide criticism surrounding the link between palm oil and deforestation.
But the brand came under fire again last year when a spokesperson for the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) accused a number of companies of "deceiving" their consumers over palm oil.
"Nestlé, Mars, and Hershey have cherry-picked their [palm oil] targets and then moved the goalposts when they don't achieve them," RAN's Laurel Sutherlin told the Guardian in a 2017 interview.
The company responded to the RSPO announcement telling ABC via a spokesperson that "Nestlé is committed to achieving traceability to plantations and to improving supply chain practices through intervention on the ground, rather than relying on audits or certificates."
The chocolate-maker went on to say that "the suspension does not affect the sustainable sourcing of any of our ingredients containing palm oil: we are still buying the same ingredients from the same suppliers." It hopes to requalify for RSPO membership in the future.
Critics of the RSPO have condemned the organization’s slow pace in reprimanding companies, and questioned the motives behind the actions taken to suspend Nestlé.
"Nestlé was given the opportunity to complete its report for 2017 through active engagement, and has declined to submit a time-bound plan," the RSPO’s official statement said. "We would like to also notify that Nestlé has an unpaid overdue membership fee of 2,000 euros."
The announcement didn't sit well with many activists.
"Greenpeace has raised at least five cases of RSPO members destroying rainforest with the RSPO in the past year, including deforestation by members of the RSPO's board of governors and its complaints panel," said Greenpeace South-East Asia forest campaigner Bagus Kusuma in a statement to ABC News. “But it has suspended Nestlé for not buying enough RSPO palm oil. This just shows the RSPO cares more about profit than protecting forests."
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