Target: Muhtar Kent, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Coca Cola
Goal: To ensure that the palm oil used in Coca Cola products is produced in a non-invasive, eco-friendly manner.
The production of palm oil is a highly lucrative business in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia, and the manufacturing and processing of palm oil does in fact provide jobs for many people in these areas. Palm oil, though, is not all that its built up to be. Palm oil plantations generally replace indigenous tropical rainforests. Not only are the homes of local people and that of endangered species being destroyed when this happens, but large amounts of carbon are being emitted and contributing to the problem of global warming as well. The Union of Concerned Scientists reports that “tropical deforestation accounts for about 15 percent of annual global carbon emissions.”
Palm oil was once thought to be a way to solve the climate change problem; however, as the World Watch Institute reminds consumers “research has revealed that oil palm development… can contribute far more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than it helps to avoid.” This is largely due to the fact that palm oil plantations are often planted in wet peatlands “of carbon-rich forest debris that is too wet to decompose.” As these wetlands continue to be drained, it is estimated that up to 5,400 tons of carbon dioxide will be released into the world’s atmosphere within the next 25 years.
The Coca Cola Company claims that one of its core values is to “be a responsible citizen that makes a difference by helping build and support sustainable communities.” While their efforts to support such a cause are upheld in many ways, they are still using palm oil in one of their product brands: Odwalla. Coca Cola, as a consumer of palm oil, must take action by ensuring that the palm oil used in their products is produced in a non-invasive, eco-friendly manner. By establishing a relationship with their supplier and implementing guidelines as to the terms under which they will purchase palm oil, Coca Cola can make a difference. If agreements cannot be made, Coca Cola is a large enough and powerful enough company to switch suppliers and supplies: the company must commit to using oils that do not cause deforestation. We, as consumers, must commit to not buying these products or supporting the Coca Cola industry until we are sure that they are engaging in sustainable practices.
Dear Muhtar Kent,
While I wholeheartedly appreciate that you value your customers and your environment, I do not know if you are fully aware of the damage that palm oil can cause to wildlife and our ecosystem. One of your brands, Odwalla, uses palm oil in its products, and thus far you have not taken to steps to ensure that this palm oil is in fact obtained and harvested in a sustainable manner.
Palm oil plantations are usually established in places where natural, tropical forests once thrived. The deforestation of indigenous lands not only displaces local people and wildlife, but it also gives off large amounts of carbon emissions. By supporting the palm oil market, you are aiding in the destruction of our ecosystem, and you are not holding true to one of your core values: to “be a responsible citizen that makes a difference by helping build and support sustainable communities.”
Please take action to ensure that your suppliers are producing their palm oil in an eco-friendly way. If this fails, you can also change the type of oil that you use in your products to one that does not contribute to deforestation. I, as a consumer, will abstain from buying your products until you ensure that the goods used to make these products are manufactured and acquired by eco-friendly means.
[Your Name Here]