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Campaign group’s report highlights “deforestation risk” for leather supply chain

An Oxford-based campaign group that works to achieve a “deforestation-free global economy” has published a detailed report highlighting links between the leather industry and deforestation in Amazon regions of Brazil.

Specifically, the report, from Global Canopy, seeks to emphasise the connections between Brazil-China trade and “hidden deforestation” in the Amazon. Brazil exports 20% of its beef and more than 80% of its leather, the organisation says, and China is the biggest market for these exports, accounting for more than 40% of Brazil’s exports both of beef and leather. 

It identifies 43 companies that it says are “highly exposed” to the risk of having supply chain partners that are involved in deforestation. Global Canopy has said its aim is to make these companies aware of this because they have “significant potential to help reduce this risk”.

The companies include cattle processors operating in Brazil, processors and manufacturers operating in China, and manufacturers and retailers headquartered in Europe and the US. Global Canopy analysed the corporate websites of each company to see which have publicly stated policies on deforestation and which do not.

Only eight of the 43 companies have these policies, the campaign group’s report claims. Even these, it says, should work to define their policies’ aims more clearly and improve the way in which they report progress. Global Canopy has developed its own methodology, Forest 500, for assessing the strength of corporate deforestation policies.

The eight companies that have a policy include Brazil-based suppliers of beef and leather JBS and Minerva, leather manufacturer Fuga Couros and Marfrig, which makes leather in the US, but not in its home country. Also on this list are footwear and apparel groups Nike, New Balance, adidas and VF Corporation.

Companies in the report for which Global Canopy could find no deforestation policy include automotive groups BMW, Daimler, Ford, GM and Volkswagen and furniture suppliers Macy’s, DFS and La-Z Boy.

In many cases, Chinese suppliers sit between the Brazilian exporters of leather and the US or European finished product brands. None of the China-based companies among the 43 has a deforestation policy.




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