Forests are vital for the biological diversity of the planet, housing over two-thirds of our terrestrial species.
Yet each year around 13 million hectares of natural forest are lost - that's 25 hectares every minute or the equivalent of 36 football fields. We're proud to be members of the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) UK Forest and Trade Network. This means that at Co-op we've committed ourselves to tracing all our timber and paper products back to the forest source.
The aim of the WWF's-UK FTN is to provide a framework for members to adopt a stepwise, monitored approach that enables them to identify and move away from materials coming from unknown or unacceptable sources, towards products from credibly certified forests. The certification scheme which currently satisfies all of the co-operatives requirements is FSC. As members of the WWF's-UK FTN Co-op have committed to meet the following general requirements:
Palm oil is one of the ingredients that has had a lot of press in recent years. It is a high-quality, versatile oil, so is used in many products now - from cooking oil to food products to toiletries, but unfortunately its production isn't always ethical. Large areas of tropical forests and other ecosystems have been cleared to make room for huge oil palm tree plantations, destroying the habitats of many endangered species such as orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers, and in some cases causing forest-dwelling people to lose their homes.
We are as concerned as you are by these impacts and have been working for a number of years to move towards making sure that all palm oil used in our own-brand products is certified as sustainable. This means that the oil has been produced on a plantation that has been managed and certified according to the principles and criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). These state that the plantation is established on land that has not contained significant biodiversity, wildlife habitats or other environmental values, and meets the highest environmental, social and economic standards, as set out by the RSPO.
Similarly, soya is another ingredient that has high environmental and social impacts. It is made from soy beans and is used as source of protein in animal feed as it has a high nutritional value and low production cost. Soya is the key ingredient in tofu and is also used in many food products.
It's the Amazon rainforest that is predominantly feeling the effects of soy bean production – deforestation is happening at an alarming rate, to allow room for soy bean plantations. This is contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and also the survival of species such as the jaguar and the giant anteater.
At The Co-operative, we support Greenpeace's moratorium on deforestation for soya in the Amazon biome. We are working with our suppliers to find a solution to making soya more sustainable. The Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS) is working to produce soy without contributing to deforestation and the destruction of sensitive ecosystems, and we support this.