Archived press release
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An investigation by Friends of the Earth has revealed that Tesco, the UK's biggest retailer and self-proclaimed leader in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), is selling garden furniture made from illegally sourced Indonesian timber.
The furniture is manufactured in Vietnam but made from logs imported from Indonesia. It has been illegal to export Indonesian logs since October 2001, when the Indonesian Government introduced a log export ban in a desperate attempt to control escalating levels of illegal logging.
The revelation is particularly shocking given that Tesco has been a member of the prestigious `WWF 1995 Plus Group' for eight years, supposedly committing the company to buying timber products independently certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as legal and sustainable.
Friends of the Earth wrote to Tesco in 1999 complaining that it was selling Vietnamese manufactured tropical hardwood garden furniture that came from an uncertified source. Tesco wrote back to Friends of the Earth then stating that "Tesco, as a member of the WWF 1995 Plus Group, are committed to sourcing hardwood from well managed sources."
Illegal logging causes major social and environmental damage, fuelling corruption and organized crime. Friends of the Earth is campaigning for the UK Government to back EU legislation making it illegal to import or sell illegally sourced timber. Friends of the Earth is also campaigning for corporations to be fully accountable for their impacts, and is backing a private members bill - the Corporate Responsibility Bill.
Friends of the Earth believes the Tesco discovery is the tip of the iceberg. The UK is the biggest importer of tropical hardwood garden furniture in the EU. Almost all this furniture comes from uncertified sources.
Friends of the Earth Forest Campaigner Ed Matthew commented:
"Tesco appear to be using their membership of this business group as a greenwash exercise. They've had eight years to find an FSC certified source for all their garden furniture. Instead they've found one which is illegal. It's difficult to be more uncommitted to forest protection than that."
1. The rainforests of Indonesia are among the most threatened in the world. Home to species such as the orangutan, Sumatran tiger and Asian elephant, over 50% of Indonesia's rainforests have now been completely cleared. The World Bank estimates that all the lowland forest in Sumatra will be destroyed by 2005 and in Kalimantan, Borneo by 2010. The illegal logging rate in Indonesia last year was approximately 73%. It is expected to reach a shocking 88% this year.
2. Friends of the Earth raised with Tesco concerns about the source of their garden furniture. Tesco promised to investigate and call Friends of the Earth back. After two weeks Tesco has still not responded.