Responding to Greenpeace's recent report (a screengrab of which is above) on the wholesale destruction of Indonesian rainforest by Sinar Mas Group affiliate Asia Pulp & Paper, Walmart issued a press statement Wednesday expressing shock that it would be singled out in the report, as it has been in discussions with the environmental group on ways to improve its supply chain. The statement in full from Walmart:
We were surprised Greenpeace would single us out in their press release as we have been in ongoing discussions with them and continue to partner on a variety of projects around the world. Walmart does not support deforestation, and as Greenpeace's report shows, our largest markets do not source product from APP, and in the remaining markets that do, we have taken the steps to stop development on private brand products with APP and are looking at what measures can be taken regarding branded products. Globally, we are committed to traceability in the timber supply chain, and we work closely with government, NGO and supplier partners to build a better, more transparent, and more sustainable supply system.
Fair enough. But Greenpeace didn't really single out Walmart in How Sinar Mas is Pulping the Planet ; it criticized roughly a dozen international companies doing business with APP and praised a smaller number for severing ties with the company.
Environmentally Poor Behavior is Still Poor When It Takes Place Far Away
And just because you don't use suspect products in your largest markets doesn't make the practice any less objectionable--many of the international brands mentioned in the report only used APP products in markets outside the country where their corporate headquarters are located.
Perhaps that's a bit of slight of hand on Greenpeace's part to raise awareness in nations removed from the deforestation by half the globe--it's true that you won't find APP products in a US Walmart store, based on what this report says--but it's certainly no more playing with words than saying you're not doing bad things in your largest markets, only in places far away and only a little bit; and that's it OK because you're still discussing ways to stop it.
Kudos to Walmart for taking many genuinely good strides lately in terms of supply chain greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, and in other areas, but that doesn't lessen the impact when less environmentally friendly things are still done.
More on Deforestation:
More Dirty Deforestation: 55% of Indonesia's Logging Illegal + Cargill's Two Hidden Palm Oil Plantations
Indonesia Suspends Controversial Paper Company's License to Review Environmental Record
Eco-Certified Paper Razing Sumatran Orangutan's Rainforest Homes, Displacing Indigenous Peoples
More on Walmart:
Walmart Announces They Will Cut 20 Million Tons of Greenhouse Gases From Supply Chain by 2015
H&M; and Wal-Mart Caught Destroying Clothing, Deny It Is Policy
Wal-Mart's Sustainability Index: The Greenest Thing Ever to Happen to Retail?