While L'Oreal's and Unilever's No Deforestation commitments send a strong signal to the sector, they still allow their suppliers six more years to clear forests
Top brands like Garnier, Diesel, Lancome, Giorgio Armani and Yves St Laurent will no longer be contribute to forest destruction following this promise by the world's biggest beauty products company.
However the company has granted itself until 2020 to achieve this objective in full - far longer than necessary, say campaigners.
Among the biggest drivers of deforestation today is palm oil. A boom in this commodity, driven by demand for fuel, food, industrial and cleaning and cosmetic products, is causing rainforest to be replaced with palm plantations around the tropics, most of all in Indonesia.
But L'Oreal's move also applies to other commodities such as wood and wood fibre, and soybean oil.
Stop peddling dirty oil
Bustar Maitar, head of the Indonesia Forest Campaign at Greenpeace International, said: "In a win for consumers around the world, L'Oreal has committed to ending its role in forest destruction.
"Thousands of people in Indonesia and around the world who have signed up demanding forest-friendly products will be turning their eyes to companies such as P&G, the producer of Heads & Shoulders, and Colgate Palmolive to guarantee that they too are not peddling dirty palm oil from forest destruction."
Greenpeace expects other companies to follow with more ambitious timelines.
A growing club - but too slow by far
L'Oreal is joining Nestlé, Unilever and Ferrero, which have aleady committed to 'No Deforestation' policies. Other palm oil giants are starting to move too.
The world's largest palm oil trader in the world, Wilmar International, committed to a 'No Deforestation' policy late last year due to public pressure from NGOs and consumers.
"While L'Oreal's and Unilever's 'No Deforestation' commitments send a strong signal to the sector, they still allow their suppliers six more years to clear forests", said Bustar.
"With global warming and rapid biodiversity loss, we urge these companies to guarantee consumers that their products will be free from forest destruction before their 2020 deadline."
According to L'Oreal's statement, its purchases of palm oil are already compliant with Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards.
Now it will move further to give preference to suppliers that respect additional standards that include the free and informed consent of indigenous peoples. Full compliance will be in place by 2020.
From words to action
But committing to a policy is "just the first step to guaranteeing consumers are not made part of forest destruction through the products they consume daily", says Greenpeace.
The group says it will continue to push L'Oreal and other companies in Greenpeace's Tiger Challenge to take their policies from words to action.
The palm oil sector is the greatest single cause of deforestation in Indonesia. Ministry of Forestry maps show that Indonesia is losing some 620,000ha of rainforest every year - an area greater than the size of Brunei - and is pushing iconic species such as the Sumatran Tiger to the edge of extinction.
Palm oil's expansion into New Guinea and Africa is already threatening forests, sparking controversy and conflict with local communities.
Greenpeace International has revealed how companies sourcing policies expose consumers to forest destruction in its Tiger Challenge.
See the text of L'Oreal's commitment.