Sunday, June 16, 2024

‘Enough of the bull’: Greenpeace report slams Australia’s biggest beef buyers for fuelling forest destruction

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SYDNEY, Monday 13 May 2024 — A new Greenpeace report has slammed Australia’s biggest beef buyers, including McDonald’s, Coles and Woolworths, for failing to adequately address deforestation in their supply chains.

Released today, Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s 2024 Deforestation Scorecard assessed how 10 of Australia’s top retailers and beef processors stack up in terms of becoming deforestation-free by 2025. Companies assessed include fast-food giants, major supermarket retailers, and beef processors.

Australia has one of the worst rates of deforestation in the world, driven largely by the bulldozing of forests for beef cattle grazing. The damning report found that all 10 of the companies assessed for the scorecard failed, with none scoring above 50% on Greenpeace’s metrics. 

Greenpeace recently expressed concern over a proposal from industry body Cattle Australia to water-down the definition of deforestation in light of new EU regulations to crack down on products linked to forest destruction, likening it to “the fox guarding the henhouse.”

Gemma Plesman, Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said that the scorecard results expose how little Australia’s big beef purchasers are doing to address the destruction of forests and nature in their supply chains.

“Our Deforestation Scorecard shows that all ten companies we assessed scored a big fat ‘F’.  Given deforestation has been a persistent issue in Australian beef supply chains for decades, these results seriously call into question the environmental performance of these companies.

“This is simply unacceptable. Right now the beef industry is killing native wildlife and the big beef purchasers are corporations like McDonald’s, whose customers would be shocked to learn their Big Mac is fuelling the deforestation crisis and pushing threatened species like the koala to the brink of extinction.

“We’re sick of the glossy marketing from companies that have no idea where their beef comes from. The beef industry must address the destruction of forests and bushland happening on their watch — there must be no hiding behind lacklustre targets and watered-down definitions.

“We’re calling on these companies to publicly aim for, and achieve, conversion and deforestation-free supply chains by 2025, using global best practice definitions. This includes protecting important regenerated forest and threatened species habitat. If big corporations take action to change their practices, we can stop the destruction of our native wildlife and the places they call home.”

Glenn Walker, Head of Nature at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said that instead of tackling forest destruction, beef industry bodies are attempting to greenwash their way to community acceptance through weak so-called sustainability frameworks and completely watered-down definitions of deforestation.

“For many years the industry-led Australian Beef Sustainability Framework has provided cover for ongoing destruction of forests, attempting to downplay the serious problem of deforestation in beef supply chains. 

“Cattle Australia is also now attempting to design and market its own fantasy definition of deforestation that would likely greenlight business as usual — a model of bulldozing and destruction that has fuelled the deforestation crisis in Australia.

“Enough of the bull. Big beef purchasers like McDonald’s, Coles and Woolies need to show leadership and fix this serious problem once and for all.”

—ENDS—

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Kate O’Callaghan on 0406 231 892 or [email protected]

Notes to Editor

  1. Greenpeace’s 2024 Deforestation Scorecard and full report can be found here. High res images and footage of recent deforestation can be found here
  1. Greenpeace frequently compiles corporate scorecards to provide public transparency to reality check or counter glossy marketing from companies in a variety of industries. Here we assessed how the commitments and implementation efforts of 10 of Australia’s largest beef buyers stack up against a conversion* and deforestation-free target by 2025. All companies were initially contacted requesting a response to a survey and offered a meeting to discuss their information. All companies were also sent their draft score to allow for further information to be provided or to challenge the fairness of the score. *The best-practice goal for corporate supply chains is ‘conversion-free’, which means no bulldozing or destruction of any natural ecosystems, not just forests.
  2. New independent research commissioned by Greenpeace showed that 668,665 hectares of koala habitat was bulldozed for beef production in Queensland in the last 5 years — 2,400 times the size of Sydney CBD.

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