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Boots, KFC, McDonalds ignore rainforest destruction survey

Ecologist

10th February, 2010

Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury’s have been praised for disclosing their ‘forest footprint’ but experts say that consumers are still not aware of the impact of their daily diet

A project has been lauched to inform consumers and investors about the link between corporate activity and deforestation. 

Similar to the Carbon Disclosure Project, the Forest Footprint Disclosure Project (FFDP) calls on companies to disclose their ‘forest footprint’ and provide information about what they are doing to reduce it. 
    
More than 200 of the world’s leading companies were surveyed on their involvement with ‘forest risk commodities’ such as timber, palm oil, beef, leather, soy and biofuels.

A number of notable companies operating in the UK failed to respond to the survey including Boots, KFC and McDonalds.

Boots said it was unfair for it to be associated with deforestation.

'We use 0.1 per cent of the volume of palm oil that Sainsbury’s use. On the one hand we want to be open, honest and transparent but there has to be a sense of reality over volume and usage,’ said Richard Ellis, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Alliance Boots.

Eating the rainforest


Forest Footprint Disclosure (FFD) chair Andrew Mitchell said that consumers still have little awareness of the impact everyday products have on forests.
    
‘Consumers “eat” rainforests daily in beef burgers, bacon and beauty products, but without knowing it.
    
‘Because of growing demand for beef, soy, and palm oil, which are in much of what we consume, as well as timber and biofuels, rainforests are now worth more cut down than standing up,’ he said.
    
Mitchell called on governments and companies to make urgent investments to avoid the costs of further deforestation. 

‘There will be no solution to climate change without a solution to deforestation. Our disclosure approach is intended to make companies sit up and take notice of their corporate responsibility to make downsizing their forest footprint a priority,' he said.

Hamburger certification?
    
The report also highlighted that 80 per cent of land deforested in the Amazon between 1996 and 2006 was now being used for cattle pasture and recommended a certification system to enable buyers to make informed choices on animal products.
    
However Simon Counsell, Executive Director of the Rainforest Foundation urged caution on the potential of voluntary certification schemes as a means of eliminating negative environmental impacts.
    
‘If the project’s real potential is to be fulfilled, we would really need to see governments, and especially the European Union, acting to regulate trade in these destructive products,’ he said.

Useful Links
The Forest Footprint Disclosure Project
The Rainforest Foundation

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