Two top executives of the world’s largest palm oil trader Wilmar International have stepped down after Greenpeace published a report linking the company to a supplier accused of deforestation.
Co-founder Martua Sitorus and Indonesia country head Hendri Saksti have resigned after a Greenpeace report in June revealed Wilmar’s links to Gama Plantation, which was alleged to have destroyed an area of Indonesian rainforest twice the size of Paris, wrote Eco-Business on 5 July.
According to Greenpeace, Gama was founded by Sitorus and his brother Ganda in 2011, was managed by senior Wilmar executives and members of the Sitorus family, including Hendri Saksti.
The NGO claimed that Wilmar had unloaded its most controversial plantations to Gama in order to shirk responsibility for the deforestation and human rights abuses carried out on them.
Trade data acquired by Greenpeace also showed that Wilmar continued to purchase palm oil from Gama despite being aware the company violated Wilmar’s No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) policy, set up in 2013, Eco-Business reported.
“[These resignations] show that Wilmar is determined to blame someone else for its failings. This is not just about Gama or Martua Sitorus. It’s about Wilmar’s refusal to do what it takes to keep forest destroyers out of its supply chain,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s global head of Indonesian forest campaign, Kiki Taufik.
In response, an unnamed Wilmar spokesperson told Eco-Business that the firm reaffirmed its commitment to its NDPE policy and that every non-compliance case was “reviewed and monitored closely”.
“Wilmar has, as of 20 June 2018, ceased sourcing from all suppliers allegedly associated with Gama as identified by Greenpeace until they can prove to our satisfaction that they do not belong to Gama,” the person said.
Wilmar also stated that three plantation companies named in the Greenpeace report – PT Graha Agro Nusantara, PT Agrinusa Persada Mulia and PT Agriprima Cipta Persada – were not included in Wilmar’s supply chain.
Regarding the resignations, Wilmar said Sitorus and Saksti had already intended to step down in 2017 but had been asked to remain in their positions to smooth out the transition period.
The company intended to publicly release concession maps of suppliers included in its grievances process, work with stakeholders towards the protection and rehabilitation of remaining forests in concession areas and to establish a more robust framework for verifying NDPE compliance at refinery level by the end of 2018.
In 2015, Wilmar became the first palm oil trader to disclose the names and location of the suppliers in its palm oil supply chain in Indonesia and Malaysia in an attempt to increase transparency and combat deforestation, said Eco-Business.
Last year, Wilmar established a programme to protect and provide education to children on its plantations and signed a sustainable finance deal with banking corporation ING, which made it the first firm in Asia to tie its financial obligations to sustainability-linked performance targets.