Greenpeace Attack on P & G Brings Question: How Can Companies Make Peace With Environmental Groups?

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The company Proctor & Gamble has fallen under attack again by environmental groups, this time cited for its use of palm oils in many of their food and cosmetics products. The attack happened last week, when nine Greenpeace protesters managed to breach security in the P & G “twin towers” in Cincinnati. The group proceeded to the twelfth floor, where they ziplined between the towers and unfurled signs protesting the use of palm oil. The incident led to the protesters’ arrest a few minutes later. According to Greenpeace, parts of the rainforest are cut down to make way for growing palms to produce palm oil. This practice endangers several species of animals, including orangutans and tigers. The group busted locks on the windows, which P & G says are difficult to replace. Though P & G officials were tough with the protesters who damaged their property and possibly damaged their public reputation, they do maintain that they will look into the report issued by Greenpeace and determine if more can be done to protect the rainforests. Greenpeace’s attack specifically targeted the popular P & G dandruff shampoo Head & Shoulders.

As P & G repairs the building and the Greenpeace protesters sit in jail on several charges, other companies ponder what consumer products manufacturers can do to smooth relations between their big business and environmental groups. This effort would fall naturally under the purview of supply chain managers, since they are most knowledgeable about the practices within their supply chains. According to the Greenpeace report, only about 10 percent of all palm oil harvested in the world is sustainable.

Though the attack was damaging, both in terms of property damage and possible damage to P & G’s public image, P & G spokespersons express a commitment to find out how much of Greenpeace’s claims are true, and if so, what they can do about it. P & G already has plans in place to have a wholly sustainable palm oil harvestation supply in place by next year.

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