Manufacturers behind producers in tackling deforestation, report finds

11th November 2014

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Stewart Hussey

Companies are increasingly aware of opportunities presented by tackling deforestation, but are hindered by inconsistencies across their supply chains, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

The NGO analysed disclosures from 152 companies including Asia Pulp and Paper, Cargill and Unilever who responded to its request for information on deforestation and commodities such as timber on behalf of investors.

Nearly 90% of respondents on forest-risk identify opportunities from the sustainable sourcing of key commodities. However, companies across commodities and supply chains are inconsistent in assessing and acting on risks that could negatively impact their businesses if unaddressed, the analysis found.

For example, where 83% of producers identify risks associated with soy, one of the four agricultural commodities driving global deforestation, only 35% of manufacturers spot the same risk, said the CDP.

“Different parts of the supply chain are moving at different rates to tackle the issue,” said Paul Simpson, chief executive officer at CDP. “Leading companies are those that are bringing their supply chains with them.”

Businesses that fail to act on deforestation could be left at a commercial disadvantage to their competitors, who may benefit from “increased brand value and securing the best suppliers,” said Katie McCoy, head of CDP’s forests programme.

Investor-led pressure on supply chain security is part of a changing long-term economic outlook companies must face, according to the CDP. This is reflected in the demand for corporate disclosure through CDP’s forest program, which has increased by 30% since 2013.

Among UK companies responding to its survey, the CDP lists British Airways, Sainsburys and Boots. Those who did not respond include PZ Cussons, the Co-Operative and United Biscuits.

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