‘Sustainable’ palm oil giant stripped of FSC license for deliberately burning rainforests

Relationship ‘untenable’ after Korean supplier Korindo ignited swathes of forest land

Korean Palm oil giant Korindo has had its trademark license with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) stripped after a BBC investigation found the group had deliberately set fire to forests in Indonesia’s Papua province.

Visual analysis by the British broadcaster found that swathes of Asian rainforest, bought by the company, had been purposefully ignited, a violation of the FSC’s logo, which asserts that products are sourced from ethical and sustainable companies.

During the BBC’s investigation last year, FSC said it would not expel Korindo, and were working with the company to improve its environmental issues.

This year, however, the leading certifier confirmed the relationship had “become untenable” and will terminate its license in October.

“We were not able to verify improvements in Korindo’s social and environmental performance,” said the FSC’s International Director General, Kim Carstensen, told the BBC.

Korindo’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Kwangyul Peck, said that the company was “shocked” by the FSC’s decision.

FSC had previously investigated Korindo in 2017, following a formal complaint submitted by environmental group Mighty Earth.

The company accused Korindo of clearing tens of thousands of rainforests in the Papua and North Maluku region.

Korindo's website claims that it is “dedicated to conservation, human rights and economic development” and that it is “always exploring new ways in which we can advance our environment and social contribution standards.”

From its website, it is not clear if Korindo is a supplier of palm oil to the beauty sector, however, it does cite the use of palm oil in consumer products.

Palm oil has been adopted by beauty brands for its moisturising and texturising properties, and according to Chris Sayer, VP of Corporate Sustainability for chemicals company Croda, more than 70% of the world’s personal care products contain palm-oil derived raw materials.

Derivatives from palm oil, such as glycerol, fatty acids and fatty alcohols, are used in products for their emollient and foaming capabilities.

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