JAKARTA, Indonesia — Environmentalists on Saturday praised Burger King’s decision to stop buying palm oil from an Indonesian company accused of destroying rainforests.
The U.S. hamburger chain giant — which recently sealed a deal to sell itself for $3.26 billion to 3G Capital — said Friday that it was canceling its contract with PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology over concerns it had not adopted sustainable farming practices.
It cited an independent audit that found the company’s plantations had violated several regulations, including planting in some peatland swamps and secondary forests.
“These practices are inconsistent with our corporate responsibility commitments, ” Burger King said in a statement on Facebook as it joined a growing list of multinationals that have broken ties with Sinar Mas.
Burger King did not say what its alternate source of palm oil — used for frying — would be.
The environmental group Greenpeace, which has accused Sinar Mas companies of tearing down forests that are home to orangutans and other endangered species, welcomed the move.
Bustar Maitar, the group’s regional forest campaigner, urged other major corporate consumers like Cargill, Pizza Hut and Dunkin’ Donuts to do the same.
Jatna Supriatna from Conservation International Indonesia sees the move as a lesson for Sinar Mas and others companies that have destroyed the tropical forests that are home to endangered wildlife and act as a filter to absorb carbon dioxide, a key cause of global climate change.
“They should not just be aggressive in expanding plantations without allotting their revenues for the forest restoration,” Supriatna said Saturday. “The government has to stop them.”
Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil, a cheap commodity used to manufacture cooking oil, margarine, cosmetics and bio fuel.
Sinar Mas said in a statement it was disappointed with Burger King’s decision, but would work hard to convince the U.S. company that it was committed to sustainable practices.
Unilever, Nestle and Kraft Foods also have recently broken ties with Sinar Mas.