KFC, and all companies, have a moral responsibility towards the sustainability of the natural environment
Recently I was asked, “What is the cause of our environmental problems?” The answer I gave was pinched from an US Environmental Protection Agency report: “We have found the sources of hazardous waste and they are us.”
But I qualified my answer less cynically. We need to understand the consequences of our actions and to accept the responsibility for those consequences. Our responsibility towards our planet does not end at the supermarket checkout or the takeaway till. Rather, we should be aware of the sources of everything that we use and make sure that the consequence of our purchase is not to further degrade the natural environment.
Greenpeace’s work on Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) is part of our campaign work to stop deforestation in Indonesia. The company is part of the Sinar Mas group and is the largest player in the pulp and paper sector in Indonesia. APP has a long track record of rainforest clearance on the island of Sumatra. WWF estimates that since the mid ‘80s it has been responsible for more than 2 million hectares of forest clearance there. We have found links to APP and rainforest destruction from Kentucky Fried Chicken, across three different regions: the UK, China and Indonesia.
It is tragic to think our rapidly disappearing rainforests could end up as trash on our streets. Yet this is the reality unless people around the world join us in stopping KFC and APP from packaging up Indonesia’s remaining forests. KFC must ditch its links to APP and introduce comprehensive policies to tackle deforestation, across all the different commodities – including palm oil, soya, paper – that could be linked to this issue.
Yum!, the owner of Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, claims to be the world’s largest fast food group. And they are the group that has done the least to tackle their supply chain impacts when it comes to deforestation. McDonalds has introduced policies to cut deforestation out of its supply chain, and Burger King have engaged on specific issues around palm oil. Yum! and KFC have so far done nothing – and have repeatedly ignored requests to act.
If APP realise that their customers are deserting them for more environmentally friendly producers then they will have to change their ways.
KFC must recognise that there is a train of destruction that starts in the Indonesian forests and ends in the gutter of the local high street. With each step – from forest, to timber, to pulp, to package – it becomes easier to deny responsibility for the devastation. At what stage in the supply chain does the end user acquire the right to say, “It’s not my problem”?
Greenpeace believes that at no stage does such a right arise. Companies must demonstrate the same consideration for our planet that they have for their neighbours in the high street. Trashing our rainforests for fast food packaging is as immoral as throwing rubbish over their neighbour’s fence, though the damage is more severe and longer lasting.
KFC, and all companies, have a moral responsibility to test the provenance of their goods and services. Distance from the scene of a crime does not exonerate a customer from a charge of complicity in that crime. When KFC is made aware of the problem it is unforgiveable to continue to do business with APP.
KFC have a claim on their UK site that all packaging is either recycled or sustainably certified by FSC or SFI, two certification schemes. We question this definition of sustainable. Not only is the SFI a weak industry scheme, but also, neither SFI nor FSC certify any products from APP. So we know, for a fact, that KFC aren’t even meeting their own existing commitments.
Thanks to the efforts of Greenpeace, KFC now know that they are abetting the destruction of our forests. They can no longer plead ignorance. They have a moral duty to take action, and we will continue to remind them.
The threats to our planet are legion and they all stem from one source: us. But we now have the knowledge that will allow us to arrest the advance of climate change, of deforestation, of habitat destruction and species extinction.
To continue to claim ignorance of the consequence of our actions is contemptible.
Image from: http://thewatchers.adorraeli.com/2011/05/23/deforestation-of-the-brazilian-amazon-rainforest-has-increased-almost-sixfold/
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