Tesco and Unilever beef up rainforest protection efforts
Two of the world's largest brands, Tesco and Unilever, have today launched major new initiatives designed to enhance rainforest protection and improve the sustainability of global supply chains.
Supermarket giant Tesco has announced a partnership with the RSPB, dubbed Together for Trees, which is designed to raise more than £1m for rainforest protection projects around the world.
Customers will be asked to donate to the scheme either directly or through the green Clubcard points they earn when re-using bags. Tesco has also said it will donate £75,000 from the sale of new Together for Trees reusable bags to the initiative, while funds raised through the mandatory Welsh plastic bag levy will now be handed to RSPB Cymru.
"As a leading retailer, we also have a great opportunity to engage our customers to help protect our environment," said David North, Tesco UK corporate affairs director. "We are proud to be working with the RSPB – the partnership reinforces our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and brings us one step closer to creating a greener future for our children."
The RSPB said the money raised will be used to support the charity's existing rainforest protection work, including projects in Harapan Rainforest in Indonesia, Gola Rainforest in West Africa and Centre Hills National Park in Montserrat. The campaign will also be supported by a competition that will offer one Tesco shopper the chance to visit one of the projects as a designated "rainforest reporter".
Significantly, the supermarket said it will also work with RSPB to identify areas where it can reduce the impact of product supply chains on forest environments.
Speaking to BusinessGreen, Martin Harper, conservation director at the RSPB, said the charity would work closely with Tesco to develop a new sustainable sourcing strategy for six tropical commodoties commonly used in its products - soy, palm oil, beef, paper, coffee and cocoa.
"The partnership is partly about fund-raising and partly about awareness-raising, but it is also about addressing supply chain issues," he said. "Tesco has a good story to tell on climate change and carbon and we want to work with them to show similar rigour to tropical commodoties."
Tesco was part of a group of retailers that made a commitment to improve its sustainable sourcing record at 2010's Cancun climate change summit, and Harper said the RSPB would now support efforts to develop a formal green sourcing strategy for key products.
"What we want by the end of the year is a sustainable sourcing plan that identifies key issues," he said. "The first step is to work out where goods come from and then look at credible certification schemes and other steps that can be taken to reduce impacts."
One product whose supply chain impact on rainforests is already being curbed is Unilever's Magnum ice cream brand. Today, it was announced separately that Unilever has set a new target of making Magnum the world's first ice cream to source 100 per cent of its global cocoa supply from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms by 2015.
The company already offers two varieties made using only Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa in the form of its Magnum Ghana and Magnum Ecuador brands. But it has now said it will accelerate the rollout of certified supplies across all its products, ensuring 60 per cent of cocoa supplies come from sustainable sources by the end of this year before delivering 100 per cent certified supplies by 2015.
"We're committed to establishing best practice in the industry. Through our work with the Rainforest Alliance, we can now source our cocoa in a sustainable and responsible way, delivering premium products made from some of the best-quality ingredients available," said Magnum senior vice president, Mick Van Ettinger.
The commitment is the latest development in Unilever's wide-ranging Sustainable Living Plan, which last November saw the consumer goods giant commit to halving the environmental impact of all of its products by 2020.
Under the plan, the company has pledged to help more than one billion people improve their health and well-being by 2020, while also sourcing 100 per cent of agricultural raw materials from sustainable sources by the same date. As a result, it is currently looking to step up partnerships with third-party certification bodies such as the Rainforest Alliance.