Forest Heroes, NGOs to Restaurant Brands International: Release a Policy to Stop Destroying Forests

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Mr. Alexandre Behring
Executive Chairman and Board Member Restaurant Brands International
226 Wyecroft Road
Oakville, Ontario, Canada L6K 3X7

October 24, 2016

Dear Mr. Behring,

The undersigned organizations wish to express our concern about Restaurant Brands International’s links to deforestation. RBI products and packaging include raw materials derived from cattle, soy, palm oil, and pulp/paper, the world’s largest drivers of tropical deforestation. Despite hearing from hundreds of thousands of consumers, press attention and investor engagement, RBI’s sustainability requirements and goals are woefully inadequate, as detailed by a recent Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) blog post. RBI has also refused to meet with our organizations to discuss these concerns and solutions.

RBI is one of the largest fast food companies in the world, and the parent company of Burger King, one of the largest burger chains in the world. Beef is the world’s leading driver of deforestation. It is unconscionable that one of the world’s largest fast food companies lacks policies to protect forests.

When forests are destroyed to make way for beef, soy, palm oil and pulp/paper production, carbon is released into the atmosphere, accelerating global warming. In fact, deforestation accounts for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Irresponsible palm oil, beef, soy, and paper/pulp production threatens habitat for thousands of species – including tigers, orangutans and jaguars – and has been associated with large-scale land grabs from local communities and Indigenous Peoples as well egregious labor rights abuses including forced labor, child labor, and illegal exploitation of migrant workers.

For these reasons, nearly 400,000 consumers have petitioned RBI as well as your subsidiaries Burger King and Tim Hortons to cut deforestation from your supply chain. Social media posts asking Burger King to cut its links to deforestation reached more than 5.5 million accounts, with more than 80,000 people feeling the message was so important that they shared or otherwise interacted with it. RBI is actively endangering customer trust and loyalty by failing to meet consumer demands to go deforestation-free.

As the issues of transparency and sustainability are growing only more important to consumers, who want to know more about the origin of their foods and to know that they are sustainably sourced, including with deforestation-free principles, we see RBI’s recent position as falling behind other industry leaders. Burger King and Tim Hortons competitors McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Brands already have committed to eliminating deforestation. RBI’s laggard status is well-documented by the press and civil society. Burger King scored a lowly 10/100 on UCS’ palm oil scorecard and 0/100 on UCS’ beef scorecard.

In order to assure consumers and investors that RBI is not contributing to these problems, we strongly urge Restaurant Brands International to release a time-bound policy committing to No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation sourcing across all commodities that your company purchases. This policy must be accompanied by a detailed implementation plan and a commitment to regular reporting.

Failure to do so poses a substantial risk to your bottom line including supply chain reliability, reputational damage and failure to meet shifting consumer and market expectations.

One of the most successful examples of private sector action to address the challenge of sustainable production is the Brazilian Soy Moratorium, where actors like McDonald’s and major commodity traders took the lead to ensure that soy production did not drive further deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Implemented in 2006, within a few years deforestation linked to expansion of soy in the Brazilian Amazon fell from about 25% of the total deforestation to 0.2%.

Conserving the world’s remaining natural ecosystems should not have a significant impact on the ability to expand agricultural production in Latin America. In Latin America there are more than 200 million hectares of degraded land. Globally there is one and a half billion hectares of degraded lands. Even if only a portion of this land should be viable for agricultural development, it would still provide more than ample opportunity to fulfill ambitious agricultural expansion plans.

We are united in a commitment to empowering people to create a better life for people, wildlife, and the planet by reducing enterprise-driven tropical deforestation. On behalf of our more than 8.5 million community members and organizational supporters, we kindly request that RBI adopts a No Deforestation policy with a clear time‐bound implementation plan to achieve zero deforestation across all commodities in your global supply chains.

Sincerely,
signatories

CC:

  • Daniel Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer, Burger King Corporation
  • Diego Beaumont, Vice President, Global Quality, Burger King Corporation
  • Carol Patterson, Senior Director, Sustainability and Stakeholder Relations, Tim Hortons
  • Patrick McGrade, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Restaurant Brands International Inc.

On October 27, 2016
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