Burger King Lets Activists Have It Their Way

Burger King likes to tell its customers: Have it your way. So folks across the country took them up on the offer and said they’d like their burgers without a side of flame-broiled rainforest, thank you very much.

From coast to coast, Greenpeace activists donned orangutan suits and “Cutter King” signs outside of Burger King restaurants to protest the fact that the fast food chain was buying palm oil from the mega-conglomerate Sinar Mas, a company that has been repeatedly exposed violating international law, Indonesian law, and even its own corporate standards in its operations in the pristine Paradise Forests. More than 850 Change.org users joined Greenpeace in petitioning Burger King—and Pizza Hut and Dunkin’ Donuts—to change their unseemly purchase habits, which I detailed in a post earlier this summer.

Finally, last week, Burger King served us all up a pleasant surprise in announcing it was eliminating Sinar Mas from its supply chain.

This is an especially big victory because Sinar Mas recently released a self-commissioned audit in an attempt to “prove” that the allegations against its rainforest-destroying business practices were inaccurate. It was clearly a misguided attempt at greenwashing, one explicitly meant to prevent any more corporate customers from joining the likes of Nestle, Unilever, and Kraft — all of whom had already taken a stand and canceled contracts with the firm.

Some news reports fell for it, and reported that Greenpeace’s claims against Sinar Mas were “unfounded” and that the third-party audit had cleared the company of wrongdoing. The only problem? The audit found no such thing.

In a “humiliating blow,” British auditor BSI Group, which performed the assessment at the behest of Sinar Mas Agro Resources Technology, also known as SMART, later forced the company to publicly retract misleading statements about the results of the audit. BSI said that its investigation had indeed found SMART to be violating Indonesian law on forest management, and that the company was in fact destroying rainforest and peatland—just as Greenpeace claims.

As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, Burger King’s decision to sever ties with Sinar Mas shows that the corporate world saw through the ruse and wasn’t willing to be complicit in the destruction of Indonesia’s peatlands and rainforests any longer. This is a major victory for corporate accountability, for the Paradise Forests of Indonesia, and for the people and wildlife who rely on the forests for survival.

You can thank Burger King for letting us have it our way on their Facebook page, if you’re so inclined. You can also continue to sign this updated petition to convince Dunkin’ Donuts and Pizza Hut to follow Burger King’s lead.

Photo credit: Greenpeace/Rick Wilking

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