P&G fails on forests in disappointing shareholder update

Tuesday March 30, 2021

Advocacy groups: Company’s new environmental commitments don’t adequately address degradation of climate-critical intact forests, human rights abuses in its supply chains

CINCINNATI, OHIO — The world’s largest consumer goods company, Procter & Gamble, has outlined its plans to investors to address issues with its forest sourcing and degradation in its supply chains — concerns initially raised by shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in October 2020. 

International environmental advocacy groups Stand.earth, NRDC, Friends of the Earth, Rainforest Action Network, and Environment America are expressing extreme disappointment at the new commitments, which fail to adequately address how the company will end deforestation, the degradation of intact primary forests and threatened species habitat, and associated human rights abuses in its supply chains. 

For years, the groups have raised concerns over how P&G is complicit in the destruction of the world’s critical forests — including in the boreal forest of Canada, where the company sources some of its fiber to make products like Charmin and Bounty, and the tropical forests of Indonesia and Malaysia, where it sources palm oil for products including Head & Shoulders and Pantene. Intact or primary forests like the boreal have never been industrially logged, and provide ecosystem functions critical to mitigating the worst impact of climate change.

“To the untrained eye, these new environmental commitments from P&G might look promising. But unfortunately, they allow P&G to continue making toilet paper from globally important primary forests and threatened species habitat — during a climate and biodiversity crisis, which is greenwashing at its finest,” said Tyson Miller, Forest Programs Director at Stand.earth.

“P&G’s corporate leadership is choosing to ignore investor concerns about the company’s role in destroying climate-critical forests to make the ultimate disposable product: toilet paper. No amount of spin can hide P&G’s complicity in the clearcutting of the world’s last great intact forests,” said Shelley Vinyard, Boreal Corporate Campaign Manager at NRDC.

“The boreal forest, called the ‘lungs of the world,’ can remove the equivalent of 24 million vehicles worth of carbon emissions each year. Preserving it is one of our best tools to fight global warming,” said Ellen Montgomery, Public Lands Director at Environment America. “Procter & Gamble needs to offer a more concrete plan for how they will transition away from using fiber from this invaluable resource.”

ADVOCACY GROUPS HAVE EXPRESSED CONCERNS

Environmental advocacy groups have been meeting with P&G executives for months to outline what the company needs to do to clean up its supply chains. Their concerns center around the company’s relationships with pulp suppliers who log in key intact areas of the boreal that are home to threatened species of caribou (reindeer). The Canadian federal government established scientific thresholds to ensure the survival of these species, but none of Procter & Gamble’s suppliers are required to stop logging in threatened areas that cross these thresholds. The groups also raised concerns about controversial palm oil suppliers associated with ongoing deforestation and widespread human rights abuses, including the use of forced labor and the violation of Free, Prior and Informed Consent. 

In the case of both controversial pulp and palm oil suppliers, P&G has failed to outline clear accountability mechanisms and comprehensive thresholds for suspending and terminating bad actors.  

“The palm oil in P&G’s products is linked to environmental and human rights abuses by some of the most problematic plantation companies in the industry,” said Jeff Conant, Senior International Forests Program Manager at Friends of the Earth. “P&G needs to muster the courage to meet directly with the people whose lands are being devastated by these companies rather than handing responsibility to the very companies perpetrating the abuses, as their new commitments suggest.”

“From the tropical rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia to the boreal forest of Canada, P&G’s commitments simply miss the mark on what is needed to keep forests standing, ensure respect for the rights of communities who call these lands home, and protect palm oil workers. P&G must do better,” said Daniel Carrillo, Forest Campaign Director at Rainforest Action Network. 

Read more about the critiques of P&G’s new environmental commitments: https://www.nrdc.org/experts/shelley-vinyard/deflect-distract-ignore-pgs-greenwashing-continues 

ABOUT THE ISSUE WITH TISSUE CAMPAIGN

P&G’s recent announcement comes more than two years after the launch of the Issue with Tissuecampaign against Procter & Gamble for making toilet paper and tissue products from endangered forests and threatened species habitat.   

Over the past two years, advocacy groups have released an Issue with Tissue scorecard and an Issue with Tissue 2.0 flunking Charmin and other P&G brands on sustainability, created a “blind wipe” video spoofing Charmin over its softness claims, held a protest outside Procter & Gamble’s shareholder meeting featuring a chainsaw-wielding bear, got Santa arrested for delivering coal to Procter & Gamble’s headquarters, delivered a tongue-in-cheek Earth Day message about folding vs. wadding toilet paper, released a poll showing 85% of Americans want toilet paper makers to use more environmentally responsible materials, and supported religious leaders in Cincinnati in sending a letter to Procter & Gamble about the moral imperative of addressing climate change.

In recent weeks, activists have gone door-to-door in neighborhoods in P&G’s hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, delivering thousands of postcards on how its suppliers destroy forests and cut down trees for Charmin toilet paper. 

###

MEDIA CONTACT: Tyson Miller, Forests Program Director, Stand.earth, tyson@stand.earth, +1 828 279 2343