Residents in Southeast Asia are currently being subjected to a heavy blanket of smoke and haze spreading across the region. The haze originates in large part from the burning of forests and peat soils in order to prepare land for agriculture, such as palm oil. But reading news reports and even seeing pictures cannot always convey the daily experience in the way that first-hand accounts can. Read More
October 7th, 2015
September 24th, 2015
Since starting our work on palm oil, UCS has taken a position that a company’s zero deforestation commitment needs to cover all of its operations, not just the products it sells or manufactures in the US. US consumers holding a company accountable for its global operations is not a new concept. The successful boycott of Nestlé in the US and Europe, which started in the late 1970’s, was the result of practices by that company in the developing world. Consumers not only want to buy products that don’t harm the planet but also want to buy products from companies they trust. Read More
September 14th, 2015
9/15/2015 Update: Since the publication of this blog, Costco has updated their palm oil commitment. Their commitment now includes specific language around the protection of forests and goes beyond a RSPO-certified commitment. However, the timeline for compliance has been pushed to 2021. Importantly, Costco has also committed to no-burn policies and some level of traceability, though they do not specify if this traceability is to the plantation level.
August 11th, 2015
Imagine you hear that a group of businesses has hired some of the best minds in the world to invent a new thing called a “wheel.”
“Strange,” you say, “don’t we already have wheels?” In fact, aren’t most businesses, consumer groups, and customers pretty firmly in support of these current “wheels?” Read More
June 25th, 2015
Wendy’s, originator of the “Where’s the beef” catchphrase and home of the unparalleled and delicious Frosty, just came out with some new information on their palm oil sourcing plans. But much like their famed 80’s commercials in which cute senior citizens find themselves unable to locate the tiny slice of beef on a giant bun, I’m having trouble finding any real reason to celebrate Wendy’s new palm oil commitment. In fact, I keep rereading their website, searching for more substance. Read More
June 16th, 2015
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today moved to ban the use of partially hydrogenated oils, the main dietary source of artificial trans fats, after determining they are not safe to use in food. This move is hardly surprising, given that in November of 2013, the FDA made this preliminary determination. The announcement by the FDA likely means an increased amount of palm oil (a trans fat-free vegetable oil) in the diet of Americans and an opportunity for companies to source only palm oil that is deforestation and peat-free. Read More
May 20th, 2015
Procrastination is a funny thing. While procrastination is theoretically acknowledged to be negative, people seem to delight in the concept. The internet is full of commentary on procrastination from web comics to a classification system to funny sayings. In fact, I bet a number of you just might be reading this blog to procrastinate some other work – am I right?! Read More
Not Where You Expected to Find Deforestation?: Examining the Palm Oil Commitments of 40 of America’s Top Companies
April 1st, 2015
A lot can change in a year.
Thirteen months ago, UCS released a report scoring 30 of America’s top companies’ palm oil commitments. Since that time a lot of things have happened, both good and bad. Back then, nobody knew that Meghan Trainor was all about that bass or how fancy Iggy Azalea is. We are one step closer to buying Cuban cigars on American soil and a machine landed on a comet! Read More
March 26th, 2015
Growing up, Back to the Future Part II epitomized what the future would look like. I dreamed of owning a hoverboard or riding in a flying car (it didn’t have to be a DeLorean, I wasn’t that picky). Well, that distant future of flying cars, dehydrated food, and self-drying clothes takes place in 2015, so the future is now.
However, on a recent viewing of the film what caught my attention wasn’t the hoverboards or holograms but a drink that Marty McFly orders at a diner. That drink: Pepsi Perfect. Through the work I’ve done investigating companies’ links between deforestation and palm oil, I’ve learned a lot about PepsiCo’s policies and asked myself how close is the real PepsiCo to being “Pepsi Perfect”? Read More
March 4th, 2015
On a recent trip to Singapore, after the day’s discussion about how best to stop deforestation in Southeast Asia had ceased and the jet-lag was just beginning to take a hold of me, I hopped into bed to fall asleep. Or probably more accurately, I collapsed into bed. I turned on the television and what I saw on the screen was surprising. Read More