Greenpeace says beauty industry is contributing to Amazon destruction

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Brazil

Greenpeace has named Unilever as sourcing cattle-based by-products used in beauty products that are contributing to the deforestation of the Amazon.

The environmental group says that by-products sourced from Amazon cattle processing are often used to produce a number of beauty ingredients, including glycerine, gelatin and gelatin derivatives such as hydrolyzed collagen protein and collagen hydrolysate.

Beef fat and other by-products serve as primary key ingredients to produce these ingredients and are often sourced from cattle producers that may be contributing to the demise of the Amazon’s natural ecosystem, Greenpeace says.

In a report entitled Slaughtering The Amazon, the organisation points out that the cattle sector in the Amazon is currently the single largest driver of global deforestation, which also contributes to making the country the world’s largest producer of green house gases.

Encouraging greater visibility in the supply chain

“What we are trying to do is encourage companies to be more thorough about their sourcing, ensuring greater accountability and choice for consumers,”​ said Judy Rodrigues, Greenpeace forest campaigner and report co-author.

As well as pointing a finger at the beauty industry, the report names a host of global blue chip companies, including carmakers VW and Honda, and sportswear players Nike and Addidas.

The largest impact comes from the global retail chains - with the three big players Carrefour, Tesco and Casino controlling around 40 percent of the cattle sector in Brazil.

Brazil beef trade set to double by 2018

Between them these companies are contributing to a global trade that was currently estimated at $6.9bn in 2008 and which the Brazilian government says should double in terms of trading volume by 2018.

Although Greenpeace says that the impact the beauty industry has on the sourcing of cattle by-products is difficult to estimate and certainly less than the food industry, Rodrigues nevertheless refers to the impact as being ‘significant’.

As well as Unilever, the Greenpeace report also names pharmaceutical and personal care player Johnson & Johnson, together with Palmolive-Colgate as being significant customers for these type of ingredients source in Brazil.

The report also points out that these players are all sourcing these ingredients for products that are produced for personal care products that are produced in Brazil for both the domestic and global markets.

Greenpeace says that its undercover report into the Brazil beef trade links some of the world’s largest brands and retailers to a supply chain that makes them ‘silent partners to crime’.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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